March 12, 2011 (JTA) — An Palestinian terrorist stabbed a couple and three of their children to death in their home in a West Bank settlement.
"Israel will not stand by idly after such a despicable murder and will act vigorously to safeguard the lives of the citizens of Israel and punish the murderers," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released after the Sabbath eve attack in Itamar in the northern West Bank.
The three slain children were 11, 3 and one month. Another two children were reportedly spared, and a sixth was not at home. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling West Bank Palestinian Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the killing in a statement sent to the media. Israeli army forces swept the West Bank in the wake of the attack and Netanyahu demanded assistance from the Palestinian Authority in apprehending the attacker.
Reports said P.A. forces had arrested a number of Hamas activists, although another report said the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had claimed responsibilityfor the attack.
P.A. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "firmly" condemned the attack, the Jerusalem Post reported. The White House called it an act of terrorism. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people." a statement said. "There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home."