IDF Launches Massive Manhunt After Five Family Members Slain in Settlement Attack

Security services are scouring the area around the West Bank settlement of Itamar after five members of a family were found stabbed to death in their home Friday night.

Israeli security forces have been carrying out an extensive pursuit after those responsible for the fatal stabbing in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, in which five family members were slain on Friday.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed Saturday that Israel would use every means possible to track down those behind the fatal knife attack.

itamar - Emil Salman - March 12 2011
Emil Salman

"The IDF and security services will act quickly and with all the tools at their disposal in order to capture those responsible for the despicable murder, " Barak said.

Barak spoke with security and intelligence officials overnight, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, regarding the killings.

The family members - two parents and their three children - were killed 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. It is believed that there were two other children in the house at the time of the stabbings, aged 4 and 2, who were not injured in the attack.

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.

Extensive police forces and Israel Defense Forces are in pursuit of the suspects or suspects.

GOC Central Command Maj. Gen Avi Mizrahi surveyed the scene of the crime with Chief of Staff Gantz, and said, "I believe that we will soon catch them and make them pay."

"This was a criminal act perpetrated by beastly men. The scenes are horrific and it is difficult for the mind to grasp what has happened," Chief of Staff Gantz said. "We will not rest and we will not be silent until we have the murderers in our hands."

Prime Minister Netanyahu was updated on the killings overnight and ordered the IDF and security services to widen the scope of their activities in order to capture the killers. Netanyahu expressed deep outrage over the horrific crime.

"This despicable murder of an entire family of innocents, parents, children and infants, while they were sleeping in their home on Shabbat," Netanyahu was quoted as saying. Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority and its president to help find the murderers.

"Israel will not return to normalcy after a despicable murder such as this. Israel will act assertively to preserve the security of the lives of Israeli citizens, and punish the murderers," Netanyahu emphasized.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman instructed the Israeli delegation to the United Nations to submit a strongly-worded complaint to the UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the current president of the Security Council in the wake of the attack.

"Israel expects to hear a strong bellowing denunciation from all democratic states, who, in the name of human rights, are quick to condemn every time a trailer is moved in Judea and Samaria, but since last night have not condemned the satanic murder of an entire family, including a one-month-old baby," Lieberman added.

Lieberman said, "The fact that the Palestinian Authority has not yet announced a denunciation of this horrific attack is the ultimate proof of the true nature and character of they who are supposed to be our negotiating partner."

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. It was the site of a similar attack in 2002, when a terrorist broke into the home of the Shabo family in Itamar and shot Rachel Shabo and three of her children - 13-year-old Zvi, five-year-old Avishai, and 16-year-old Neria.