The couple were identified as Eitam and Na’ama Henkin of the settlement of Neria north of Ramallah, leaving behind four children — aged 4 months, 4, 7 and 9 — who were in the vehicle at the time of the attack, but were not hit by the gunfire. The children were said to be physically unharmed but treated for shock.
A crowd of 10,000 gathered today for the funeral of the victims.
The attack happened shortly before 9pm on a road between the West Bank settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh. The victims, Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were driving four of their six children when the shootings occurred. Reports have suggested that as they slowed to turn a corner, a car sped up alongside them and opened fire. Paramedics who arrived on the scene pronounced both parents dead on arrival.
The attackers reportedly fled to a nearby Palestinian village. Today, the Israel Defense Forces deployed hundreds of soldiers in the West Bank to find the gunmen.
A senior official of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement posted on his Facebook Page that Fatah was accepting responsibility for yesterday’s murder of a young Israeli couple, Eitam and Naama Henkin, in front of their four children.
Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul posted: “The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement Fatah, accepted responsibility for the Itamar operation [murder of Eitam and Naama Henkin], carried out against settlers, leading to their deaths”.
A Hamas spokesman praised the attack by the “brave resistance,” calling the murderous act “heroic,” and vowing to continue the struggle against Israel. The organisation called for its members to carry out more attacks against Israel.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby “strongly condemned” the attack, and the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov stated: “I condemn this evening’s shooting attack on an Israeli civilian vehicle which resulted in the death of two people and injuries to their four children in the occupied West Bank. There is nothing heroic about the killing of civilians. The perpetrators of this violent act must be brought to justice”.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said: “Tonight, bloodthirsty murderers claimed the lives of a mother and a father, leaving their young children orphaned. The heart breaks at the magnitude of such cruelty and hatred. We will continue in our brave and unwavering fight against this cruel and heinous terrorism – of this our enemies can be sure…This is our duty, and the only way we can ensure the right of the orphans who lost their parents tonight, along with the right of all our children and grandchildren, to live with security and in peace, everywhere in the Land of Israel”.