Two Israelis, a couple from Jerusalem, sustained moderate to serious injuries yesterday evening when a terrorist infiltrated the settlement of Bracha, near Nablus. Earlier in the day, an Israel Air Force attack killed five Palestinians, including one Fatah terror suspect, two children and two teenagers.
In the Bracha attack, the terrorist shot the couple when both were about to get on a bus, at the end of Shabbat. They were visiting Bracha for an event held at a yeshiva located next to the settlement.
As Shabbat ended, at 8:30 P.M., a group of Jerusalemites who had been guests at the yeshiva headed toward the bus. The terrorist had infiltrated the settlement, and was waiting in an area near the path that led to the bus. He fired at the couple. Eyewitnesses relate that after the first shots hit the couple - apparently the woman - the man threw himself atop his wife, to protect her. The terrorist moved toward the couple, and shot the man in the back.
At this stage, one of the guests, Avi Ofer, noticed the attack. "I ran with my M-16 [rifle]," Ofer, a 20-year-old resident of the Psagot settlement and a soldier in the Givati commando unit, related. "I saw this noble scene - the husband was lying atop his wife, to protect her. I moved closer to them, and I saw the terrorist firing from a field, nearby. I started to shoot at him; I think I managed to stop him, he stopped firing. I only had five bullets left in my cartridge, so I ran toward the yeshiva; there, a member of the local security squad gave me his Galil rifle."
Members of Bracha's security team reached the scene of the attack about a minute after the terrorist opened fire. They, too, fired at the terrorist.
"I went back with the Galil rifle," Ofer related, "and I saw the terrorist between some shrubs, and I opened fire at him again. This time, too, I think I hit him. After a few minutes, a large number of security forces reached the scene - police, army, Magen David Adom [medical rescue workers] - and so I stopped shooting, because I didn't want to hit any of our forces."
Security officials later speculated that the terrorist entered Bracha from one of the villages around Nablus, and waited near the path that led to the bus for several minutes. The security officials believe that the assailant chose to fire at unarmed persons because he waited for the Jerusalem couple; several other persons in the group carried weapons.
Police and IDF men on the scene found that the terrorist was dead, and started to comb the area to ascertain whether other attackers were at large. A Kalashnikov rifle, cartridges and military backpack were found near the terrorist. Some security sources reported that footprints of a second terrorist who helped the assailant, and who apparently managed to escape, were spotted in the area.
The two wounded Israelis were taken by helicopter to Beilinson and Sheba Medical centers.
The Israeli woman who sustained moderate wounds was identified as Dalit Renad, the sister of a groom for whom a celebration was being held at the yeshiva. She was taken to Beilinson Hospital-Rabin Medical Center. Her husband Yaakov was taken to the Sheba-Tel Hashomer Medical Center.
Palestinian sources reported that two Israel Air Force helicopters fired four missiles yesterday afternoon at a Mitsubishi car that was traveling in a residential area in the town of Tubas, east of Nablus. One missile hit a nearby building, and not the car. Rafat Daraghmeh, 29, was in the car; some sources said that he was a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, while others insisted that he was an intelligence official for the Palestinian Authority's security system. Also in the car was Jihad Suaftah, another man wanted by Israel on suspicion of membership in the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Two teenagers were also in the car: Sari Sabiah, 17, and Yazid Abed a-Razak, 16. According to sources in Tubas, neither Daraghmeh and Suaftah was a "serious suspect." The two teenagers were friends of the two terror suspects; sources with PA preventive security said that the two teenagers were unarmed.
Daraghmeh was killed in the helicopter attack, along with Sabiah and a-Razak. Suaftah was wounded.
The missile strike at the nearby building killed two children, Osama Daraghmeh and Bahira Daraghmeh. The two cousins were playing outside their house. Also, six others were injured in the attack, including a 7-year-old boy, Ahmed Hisham, whose condition was said to be critical last night.
Tubas residents told investigators from LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, that helicopters hovered over the town for hours, starting in the morning. The Mitsubishi, they said, had yellow Israeli license plates, and was traveling in a residential area.
Top PA negotiator Saeb Erekat yesterday defined the Israeli airborne warship attack in Tubas as a "crime." He said: "We denounce this terrible crime, which was perpetrated under orders from Israel's government, and which caused the deaths of five people - including two children, a 6-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. We place responsibility for this crime, and its implications, on Israel's government."
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