terrorist attack
Archive photograph. Photo by Emil Salman
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Five members of an Israeli  family were killed Friday night when a suspected terrorist broke into their home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and stabbed them all to death.

According to police, the suspect broke into the house armed with a knife and stabbed the mother, father and three children, aged 11, three and an approximately one-month-old baby. Magen David Adom rescue services arrived at the scene and found them all dead.

It is believed that there were two other children in the house at the time of the attack, aged 4 and 2, who were not injured in the attack.

Extensive police forces and Israel Defense Forces are scanning the area for the suspect.

The family's 12-year-old daughter, who was at a youth group activity, returned to her home at approximately midnight and her calls for the door to be opened for her went unanswered. With the help of a neighbor, they managed to open the door and came upon the horrible murder scene.

The military blocked the entrance to the northern West Bank settlement of Itamar, as soldiers poured inside and a pair of ambulances departed.

The overnight attack is the first attack against settlers in months and the first of its kind and scope in years. It marks a rare outburst of violence during a relatively calm period.

Itamar is home to some of the West Bank's most fervent settlers.

In 2002 a terrorist broke into the home of the Shabo family in Itamar and shot the mother, Rachel, in the back. Then he shot Zvi, 13, and Avishai, 5, also in the back. After that, Neria, 16, was also shot dead.

The terrorist climbed up from the valley and without even cutting it, simply trampled down the fence. First he approached the neighbors' house but the dog began barking and he turned instead to the Shabo family's home. They were among the settlement's founders. Boaz, the father, a printer by profession, was not at home. The older children - Yariv, 17, and Atara, 15 - were also out, visiting friends.

Thirteen-year-old Aviah, who was wounded, told the doctor who attended her in the hospital that she had heard her mother shout out in pain and then all was quiet.