One of the wounded is in serious condition, and Army helicopters evacuated the injured to a hospital for emergency care. The group of worshippers from the Breslov Chassidic sect had driven to the site when they were gunned down. One of the drivers rushed the murder victim to a nearby IDF checkpoint.
The IDF hurriedly issued a statement that the trip to Kever Yosef was not coordinated with Israeli security forces.
Kever Yosef is a Jewish holy site that was supposed to be under Israeli control and open to worshippers as stated in previous agreements. However, the government has surrendered the area to Palestinian Authority control, and local Arabs have desecrated it several times.
The Breslov group was known to Palestinian Authority authorities as people who frequently prayed at Kever Yosef without any other intentions, according to Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council. He called the shooting attack a “massacre at close range.
National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari indirectly blamed the American government for having “trained and armed the enemy army that is called the ‘Palestinian Authority police’ and is directly responsible for the murder at Kever Yosef.”
He called on the Israeli government to restore the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva to Kever Yosef and to confiscate weapons from the Palestinian Authority.
The attack on the morning before the last day of the Passover holiday comes less than a month after the savage stabbings of Rabbi Udi Fogel, his wife Ruthie and three of their six young children, including a three-month-old baby, in community of Itamar, also located in Samaria.
Residents of Judea and Samaria frequently have warned that the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints in the area would make it easier for Arab terrorists to stage attacks and would encourage PA police to attack Jews. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has argued that the easing of security measures are “goodwill” measures that strengthen PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s popularity and help him fight terror.