A couple were killed in a shooting attack on Thursday evening in the northern West Bank.
The two, Eitam and Naama Henkin, were driving with four of their six children down a road between the settlements of Elon Moreh and Itamar, near the Palestinian village of Furik, east of Nablus. The children, aged 9, 7, 4 and 4 months were sitting in the back seat and were not hurt during the incident. The family, which resides in a nearby settlement of Neria, was on its way home from a reunion of yeshiva graduates.
Following the attack, the Israel Defense Forces closed the nearby Joseph's Tomb to worshippers.
Boaz Malka, a paramedic who arrived at the scene, said he found the family's car in the center of the road when the ambulance arrived. "A man in his thirties was lying next to it, with wounds to his upper body. A woman, also in her thirties, was sitting in the car with wounds to her upper body as well." He said the two were pronounced dead at the scene.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said about the attack was a "result of Palestinian incitement" that led "to an act of terror and murder." The prime minister, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly, said that the "murderers knew they were killing a mother and a father because their children were there." He added: "This is a difficult day for Israel."
Netanyahu later added that after consulting with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen he instructed to reinforce troops in the West Bank following the attack.
Netanyahu also criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and said he "did not hear a condemnation from the Palestinian Authority," noting that after an arson attack last month in the West Bank of Duma, where three members of the Palestinian Dawabsheh family were killed, "me and all of the Israeli leadership strongly condemned [the attack]." The prime minister said that while he visited 4-year-old Ahmen Dawabsheh, who survived the attack, in the hospital, "you can see the thundering silence on the part of the Palestinian Authority.
The Al-Aqsa Brigades, Fatah's military arm, said it welcomes the attack, "which constitutes a worthy response to the crimes of the occupation and the murder of the Dawabsheh family."
The U.S. said overnight Friday it "strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place late Thursday evening in the West Bank." State Department spokesman John Kirby said: "We extend our condolences to the victims’ family. We urge all sides to maintain calm, avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragedy, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The area has seen several violent incidents recently. Last month, shots were fired toward an Israeli car on a road between the Palestinian town of Huwara and the Tapuach Junction. No casualties were reported. A week earlier, an Israeli man was lightly hurt when shots were fired toward his car near the Kedumim settlement.
Later on Thursday night, a 28-year-old woman was lightly wounded by stones hurled toward her at Itzhar Junction. Around the same time, a Palestinian driver was lightly hurt in a smiliar incident at the entrance to Nablus.
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said in response that the "murderous incident, that left a family bereft, is a result of a continuation of Abu Mazen's (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) speech yesterday at the UN. The response to this terrible murder must be the annexation of Area C and the expansion of settlements in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria."
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that Abbas' "battle cry" was "acted upon tonight in Israel, and it's redder than blood. A people whose leaders encourage murder will never become a state."
MK Yair Lapid also said that the "odious murder" is in line with "Abu Mazen's policy of incitement and lies."
Knesset Member Zouheir Bahloul said that "there must be another way."
"A reality where kids are torched and parents are murdered is a reality we cannot tolerate," he said. "How much longer will innocent people on both sides pay with their lives for the hopelessness and the deadlocked peace process."
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