Settlers Create New West Bank Outpost in Memory of Slain Family

Itamar residents respond to Friday's murder of five members of the Fogel family by creating new 'neighborhood' close to the Arab village of Awarta.

A pile of unwashed dishes cleared from the table, a hot plate, a tray of almost untouched cookies, toys scattered on the floor, a cradle. For the first time since the murder of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar, journalists were allowed into the house where life stopped Friday night - to see the silent testimonies to the attack, the chaos in the bedrooms, the bloodstains on the walls, and to smell the odor of blood that remained everywhere.

A few hundred meters away, you could also see the Itamar residents' response to the murder. A new outpost, a "neighborhood" as the residents call it, is going up southwest of the settlement, a few hundred meters away from the Arab village of Awarta. So far there is a tent and a chemical toilet.

Aryeh West Bank outpost - Moti Milrod
Moti Milrod

The unofficial name of the new neighborhood: "Aryeh" an acronym of the first letters (in Hebrew ) of the names of the victims: Udi, Ruth, Elad, Yoav and Hadas.

Tuesday morning we found five or six people at the site, working unhindered. It is not clear how long the army will let them work and settle in on the hill. Meanwhile, they are clearly getting help from the Shomron Local Council, including a bulldozer to make a road to Itamar, an electric generator, perimeter lights and a water tank. The flag of the local council stands fluttering next to the Israeli flag.

The bulldozer can be seen and heard from the Fogel home, which opened yesterday to official visits, including that of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and later on 11 MKs from the "Land of Israel" caucus. The head of the local council described the murders to Lieberman.

"You walk in and see the sign on the door, 'Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl [Hadas],' and then you see this pogrom," the foreign minister said.

Lieberman added that it was like "those scenes that we read about only in books, that Kishinev pogrom; you see the same butchery, here, in the heart of a Jewish settlement."

"From my point of view, when we talk about the 'City of Slaughter,' this is a 'house of slaughter,'" Lieberman said, referring to the poem "In the City of Slaughter," which Haim Nahman Bialik wrote about the Kishinev Pogrom.

Lieberman said that the fact that Jewish lives were not preserved meant "there is no doubt that the state failed here."

Meanwhile, security forces continued to comb the area around Awarta for suspects and forces were seen coming and going from the village itself, while inside the Fogel family home, crime scene analysts continued to collect evidence.

Rabbi Avichai Ronski, the head of the yeshiva in which the father, Udi Fogel, was a student, stood weeping alone in the bedroom of 11-year-old Yoav, who was killed in the attack. Ronski stared at the wall over Yoav's bed, where a note with the words "prayer for the love of friends" could still be found. The prayer contains the words "May you grant me the privilege to love every person in Israel like my own soul."