Jerusalem — They came armed with knives and wire cutters looking for a Jewish target.
It was a Friday night, the Sabbath eve of March 11, and two Palestinian teenagers both from the Palestinian village of Awarta, hurried through the dark before climbing over the fence of the nearby Jewish settlement of Itamar, in the West Bank.
The first house they entered was empty of people, but they stole an M-16, magazines and a flak jacket.
Next, they entered the Fogels’ home.
The attack that took place there would shock Israel and reverberate around the world.
First they murdered 11-year-old Yoav and his 4-year-old brother, Elad. They continued on to the bedroom where the children’s parents, Ruth and Udi, were sleeping with 3-month-old Hadas.
The Fogels struggled, but to no avail. It wasn’t until the killers heard Hadas cry that they realized a baby was in the room; they murdered her, too.
Before leaving the house, the two men stole another M-16.
Two other Fogel children—sons Roi, 8, and Yishai, 2 — were sleeping in a side bedroom and were spared. A daughter, Tamar, 12, returned home at about midnight from a youth group activity to discover the grisly scene.
Meanwhile, the two killers returned to Awarta on foot and went to the home of Hakim’s uncle, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member Salah E-Sin Awad, and told him of their attack. The uncle helped them hide the stolen weapons and knives, and burn their bloody clothes.
These were the allegations the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office made Sunday, just before Passover, releasing details about the Fogels’ murders after the two Palestinian teens were arrested for the attack. Police said the teens confessed to the killings. The suspects were identified as Amjad Awad, 19, and Hakim Awad, 18.
The arrests close a circle but bring no consolation, relatives of the Fogels told Israeli media.
”We are very proud of the state and the security services,” Ruth Fogel’s brother, Yochai Ben Yishai, told the Israeli news outlet Ynet. “But on a personal level, there is no consolation. The pain remains sharp.”
The Israeli military announced Sunday that Israeli security services—including the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service and police—were involved in the teens’ arrest.
“For the family this is not a complete answer, but without it they could not be given even a partial answer,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that “We will reach murderers anywhere.”
Amjad, who worked as a laborer in Israel, and Hakim, a high school student, were arrested several days apart earlier this month. Amjad, who is not related to Hakim, reportedly said that he went to Itamar to “die a martyr’s death.”
The suspects have been identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, like their uncle and several members of their families, some of whom were arrested as accomplices. But Israeli authorities said it appears the two murderers did not act on behalf of the terrorist organization.
Dozens of residents of Awarta had been detained by Israeli security services in recent weeks in an effort to identify the Fogels’ murderers.
Awarta village council chief Kais Awad, speaking to Ynet, demanded an international inquiry into the arrests, saying he has “major doubts over the Israeli findings” and that the murder confessions were obtained under duress.
”They’re children; it isn’t possible that they committed this awful act,” he said.
Several Israeli lawmakers from the Likud and National Union parties reportedly called for the death penalty, which has never been used in Israel in terrorism cases. Israel’s only judicial execution was of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.
In other terrorism news, the Israeli teen injured in a Gaza rocket attack on a school bus died a day after a weeklong cease-fire between Israel and Gaza terror groups was disrupted.
Israel Channel 2 reported Sunday evening that Daniel Viflic, 16, was declared dead at Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, 10 days after arriving there with severe head trauma after a rocket fired from Gaza slammed into his school bus traveling outside of Kibbutz Sa’ad in southern Israel near the Gaza border. The bus driver, the only other occupant of the bus at the time of the attack, also was injured.
Viflic had been in a deep coma with no brain activity for at least a week.
Early Saturday, Israeli airstrikes hit two terrorist bases near Gaza City in retaliation for rocket fire on two southern Israeli cities, disrupting the unofficial cease-fire. The Israeli attack came hours after two long-range rockets were fired from Gaza on Ashdod and Ashkelon.
The cease-fire had started a few days after the school bus bombing following Israeli retaliatory strikes for weeks of increased rocket attacks by Gaza terrorist groups that had hit Israel, and after a weekend in which 150 rockets from Gaza struck southern Israel, including the rocket that hit Viflic. Nineteen Palestinians were killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes.