Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Land of Israel MKs pay solidarity visit to Itamar
Parliamentarians hear from residents of settlement what they want the government to do in wake of Fogel family slaying.
Dishes full of chicken bones, desiccated carrots and a half-eaten cake – remains of the Fogel family’s last meal together – still sat on the kitchen counter as MKs from the Land of Israel caucus visiting the settlement of Itamar filed into the home where five members of the family were stabbed to death on Friday night.
Purple forensic chemicals were still splashed on the walls and children’s toys were scattered across the floor of the cramped living room as the parliamentarians paid their visit, showing solidarity and hearing from residents what they wanted the government to do in the wake of the tragedy.
The dozen parliamentarians were part of a Knesset forum comprising 30 MKs from seven parties and chaired by Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and Aryeh Eldad (National Union).
Before the MKs said Kaddish in the Fogel living room, Elkin told reporters that the attack illustrated that “anyone who thinks that handing over responsibility for security in this area to the Palestinian Authority will prevent the next murder here is wrong.
“The second thing that is very clear in this house is that this settlement must grow and develop and it is the responsibility of the government to make this happen,” he said.
Nearly every resident of Itamar, which has lost 22 members to terror attacks in the 26 years since its founding, described feeling abandoned and vulnerable, saying the settlement was an exposed target lacking a proper fence or enough IDF back-up to provide security for residents. They also spoke of their desire for the government to overrule Defense Ministry decisions that have restricted the settlement’s construction plans.
During a press conference at the Itamar community center, one resident, who identified himself as Yoel, told the politicians that residents felt the IDF had abandoned them.
“We feel almost completely alone. This is causing a fissure in terms of our love of and belief in the country. And then we open the [newspapers] and read that the failure was in the settlement’s security system.
This is not at all true, and it is something that is seriously harming residents’ sense of security,” he said.
“We know that our system did not fail.
What has failed is that there hasn’t been an approval of a full security system and fence like there are on all the other settlements in the area,” he continued. “We need an entire, full security system. We need that the State of Israel, for which we feel like full emissaries and pioneers, must provide us with a complete security system.”
Hagar Zar, the widow of Gilad Zar, the former security chief of Itamar who was murdered by terrorists in a 2001 shooting attack, described a feeling of silence and helplessness in the settlement. She also spoke of the frustration she feels when the government and the media talk about allowing construction in the settlement blocs to continue, but not in far-flung settlements like Itamar.
“I have lived here almost 27 years. I am raising eight orphans. My daughter said to me, they [the murderers] entered silently, left silently, and will remain silent.
I feel everywhere a feeling of a house of death, absolute silence,” Zar said.
When it came to government support of construction in the settlement blocs, she added, “this is a knife in the back of the settlement of Itamar, because when they say that they will allow building there, they are saying clearly that here they will not allow us to build. I want Ma’aleh Adumim to grow, but why deny us?”
After they left Itamar, the MKs went to the home of Haim and Zila Fogel in the settlement of Neveh Tzuf, where they are sitting shiva for their five slain children and grandchildren. They have taken in Tamar, 12, Roi, 8, and Yishai, 2, their three grandchildren who survived the attack.
Michael Coren on the slaughter of the Fogel family
Israeli officials are sweeping through West Bank settlements in a manhunt for the killers of a Jewish couple and three of their children found stabbed in their home early yesterday.
The five family members were knifed in their beds as they slept in their house in the West Bank town of Itamar.
The victims were Udi Fogel, 36, his wife, Ruth, 35, and three of their six children: Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and 3-month-old Hadas, local papers reported yesterday.
The grisly slayings occurred sometime during the Jewish Sabbath late Friday night, military officials said. It's unknown if the murders, deemed a "terror attack" by the Israeli military, was carried out by a lone assailant or several killers.
The couple's 12-year-old daughter, Tamar, discovered the gruesome crime when she returned home from a youth meeting at around midnight.
A neighbor helped her get inside, where she found her parents and three siblings slain amid blood-soaked toys and overturned furniture.
Tamar's two other siblings, Roi, 8, and 2-year-old Yishai, survived because they slept in another room. The three children are now with their grandparents.
Glenn Beck on Itamar Jewish Family Massacre on Shabbat