West Bank Attack: Condition of Baby, Delivered After Mother Shot, Deteriorates

In response to attack near settlement, Justice Minister Shaked calls on Netanyahu to legalize remaining homes in Ofra ■ Israeli forces comb Palestinian villages in search of assailant

Israeli security forces and emergency personnel work at the scene of a shooting attack near the settlement of Ofra, West Bank, December 9, 2018.
\ AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

In response to a drive-by shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra on Sunday evening, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to legalize the homes in Ofra that do not have legal status.

Seven people were wounded in Sunday's attack, including a 21-year-old woman in her seventh month of pregnancy, who was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and whose condition has stabilized. Doctors at the hospital delivered her baby boy, whose condition deteriorated Sunday overnight and who is now in serious condition. The woman's husband, who was also wounded in the attack, was said to be in stable condition.

The others wounded in the attack were a man in his 20s who is in moderate condition, two 16-year-old boys and two 16-year-old girls, all of whom sustained light wounds. One of them was released overnight.

The Israeli military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, issued a statement Monday saying that Israeli troops, border police and other Israeli security forces were continuing to conduct searches in West Bank Palestinian villages in an effort to apprehend the attacker or attackers.

A considerable number of the homes in the Ofra settlement were built even though there was no provision for their construction in the settlement's master plan. They therefore lack legal approval. Shaked said a draft has been prepared that would make the necessary changes to the plan.

The scene of the terrorist attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra.
Ammar Awad/Reuters

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the Knesset: "We are all praying for the wellbeing of those injured in the terrorist attack in Ofra last night. We thank and support the doctors fighting for the baby's life. Hideous terrorists tried to murder a mother and the baby who was in her womb. It's a monstrous thing."

The prime minister continued: "Of course, some congratulate this act. I think it's useless to expect the Palestinian Authority to condemn it, they only contribute to incitement. Our security forces, the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces, are chasing these murderers. They will catch them and we will prosecute them and settle the score with them."

Referring to the Palestinian Authority's policy of providing compensation to the families of Palestinian assailants, Shaked said: "Terrorists who carry out such terror attacks know that even if they are caught they will receive a lot of money, they and their families.” She added that she and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads her Habayit Hayehudi party, are engaged in efforts to prevent Palestinian terrorists from receiving payment for their crimes.

The justice minister was referring to a bill that would provide for the deduction of those funds from tax receipts that Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority. The legislation would earmark it instead to West Bank Jewish settlements.  

Netanyahu commented on the attack in a video clip on his official Facebook page: “Everyone is praying for the wellbeing of the young woman who is fighting for her life – her baby was saved, and we are also wishing a speedy recovery to all the wounded. We will not rest until we find these murderous criminals and bring them to justice.” Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, also wished the victims a speedy and full recovery in the video.

President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday morning: “We are praying with great concern for the recovery of the wounded in the criminal terrorist attack, and among them the young mother who brought life to the world out of the horror.” Rivlin wished the victims a quick recovery and praised “all the security forces who are chasing down the terrorists relentlessly.”    

Hamas praised the terrorist attack late on Sunday: “Despite all the attempts to uproot the resistance to the occupation, the action on [Sunday] evening proves that the principle of resistance is still alive and beating,” said the organization.

Hezbollah also praised the attack on Monday, saying "The operation in Ofra is additional confirmation that the Palestinian people are determined to free their land. It is a message to all settlers that it is not safe for them."

U.S. President Donald Trump's special envoy to the Middle East peace process, Jason Greenblatt, slammed the attack as "absolutely disgusting" and criticized the United Nations for failing to pass a resolution condemning Hamas last Thursday.

"@UN this is what you defended last week when you failed to condemn Hamas. Hamas praises yet another terror attack. You had the ability to help fight against terror. Is this what the UN wants its legacy to be?" Greenblatt tweeted late on Sunday.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also weighed in: "Hamas calls the shooters “heroic” — yes, the same #Hamas that the @UN could not resolve to condemn last week," he wrote.