The terrorist arrived in the settlement of Itamar in Samaria around 9 PM, on June 20, 2002, and broke through the perimeter fence. He entered one of the homes, apparently through the kitchen door, and shot the mother of the family Rachel, 40, and three of her sons: Neria, 15, Zvika, 12, and Avishai, 5.

Later on, two other children were injured: Aviah, 13, and Asael, 9, who lost his right leg which was hit by three bullets and grenade shrapnel.

Advertisement

The local emergency squad rushed to the scene after hearing the gunfire. They engaged the terrorist and tried to rescue the wounded children. The squad commander, Yosef Twito, 31, father of five, was shot and killed by the terrorist who had barricaded themselves inside the house.

Large IDF and Border Guard forces encircled the multi-level house and entered. The fighting lasted for about an hour, during which the fighters rescued the wounded Asael who had been hiding in a closet.

The terrorist attempted to escape through a bathroom window and was killed after a brief battle in the courtyard.

Two soldiers were wounded.

The father of the family, Boaz, was not injured because he was not at home when the terrorists had entered. Two of the children, Yariv and Atara, were unhurt.

Asael underwent physical rehabilitation and became an outstanding swimmer and a leading player in Israel’s wheelchair basketball league.

After the murder, Asael said, he learned to appreciate family life. “We respect each other more, we get into fights less. We Understand that we have to use the time to love each other and give each other. To appreciate what remained.”

He often visits families whose loved ones were murdered by terrorists, to offer support. “Not in words, because as I remember about myself, words do not help. But the fact that they see you, someone who experienced something similar and here he is – it can help. Just so they see there’s somewhere to get up and go to, and they can do it.”

Advertisement