At around 6:00 p.m., as the lights of Emmanuel came into
view, passengers on the bus from Bnei Brak had begun to stand
up, straighten the wrinkles out of their clothes and gather
their belongings -- when the bomb went off. Arab terrorists
lying in wait on the hill alongside the road detonated two
bombs. The explosions were not particularly powerful, but
were enough to kill several of the passengers and to cause
considerable damage to the bus.
The injured driver used the last of his strength to continue
forward several hundred meters in the direction of Emmanuel;
later it was clear that this saved the lives of most of the
surviving passengers on the bus.
At this point one of the three ambushing terrorists descended
from the hill to the north of the road. He hurled hand
grenades toward passengers as they tried to flee from the
bus. His next target was a line of cars that had been
traveling behind the bus. He weaved through the cars,
shooting at people inside at close range. Two other
terrorists fired from a distance.
When the doors would not open, the passengers tried to escape
through the shattered windows. Those who managed to extricate
themselves straggled toward the center of Emmanuel where they
awaited assistance. Meanwhile the terrorists were
The driver of one of the cars summoned a Border Patrol jeep
that proceeded to the scene of the attack, followed by a
police car and an IDF jeep, and waged a battle with the
terrorists. During the exchange of gunfire, one of the Border
Patrol soldiers was killed and several of the soldiers and
policemen were wounded. Eventually they managed to shoot and
wound the terrorist on the road. The IDF jeep ran him over,
Evacuating the wounded was complicated by the circumstances
of the attack. Unlike previous incidents of this kind, the
terrorists remained on hand shooting, which caused great
confusion at the scene.
When the bodies were eventually taken away by ZAKA workers --
who collected all of the victims' remains for burial with
mesirus nefesh -- the bodies were transported to the
Medical Forensic Institute at Abu Kabir, where the work of
identifying the victims got underway immediately. By the
middle of the night most of those killed in the attack had
been identified by relatives and Emmanuel residents.
The Emmanuel Local Council set up a round-the-clock post to
organize care for the families of those who were killed and
to coordinate the levayas in cooperation with the
Local Religious Council, headed by Rav Yehoshua Levine.
Thousands of participants attended the levayas held
last Thursday for the ten people murdered in the terrorist
attack Wednesday evening at the entrance to Emmanuel,
Hashem yikom domom.
The "Lebanonization" of Shomron
Until last week's attack the area surrounding Emmanuel was
considered among the quietest sectors in Judea and Samaria--
one of the reasons why buses with bulletproof protection were
not used throughout the day. The IDF classified the zone as a
"low-risk area for terrorist attacks."
Yet this attack proved otherwise. Army personnel noted that
the method used in the recent attack resembles a tactic
commonly employed by Hizbullah in Lebanon: a bomb is placed
on the road and detonated when a target vehicle passes, and
immediately after the explosion ambushers open fire to
increase the number of casualties. Until now this type of
attack was unknown in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
The combination of explosives and shooting requires careful
planning and indicates that the attackers had thorough
knowledge of the environs and sufficient time to lay the
bombs and detonate them in the early evening. The assault was
also not entirely a suicide attack: two of the terrorists
managed to escape, retreating into Palestinian Authority-held
territory, where in all likelihood they received a hero's
The three assailants were members of a known Hamas band in
Nablus. Their names were handed over to the Palestinian
Authority on several occasions, but the PA did not arrest
them. The terrorist killed during the attack was Assam
Richan, 21, a third-year medical student at A-Najech
University in Nablus.
Hamas was believed solely responsible for the attack near
Emmanuel, although a Fatah-affiliated group, the Al-Aksa
Martyrs Brigades, originally claimed responsibility.
According to some reports, it was a joint operation of the
Military analysts noted that the "Lebanonization" of the
territories presents a major challenge to the IDF. Anyone who
speaks of a possible solution to prevent terrorist attacks
must keep in mind that Israel spent years in search of a
solution in Lebanon, and all efforts failed; eventually the
government ordered a withdrawal.
Furthermore, the territories are much more vulnerable to
attack. In Lebanon the targets were soldiers who were heavily
armed and constantly prepared for attack (which was not
always enough to save them), whereas in the territories
citizens often travel the roads in standard cars and
The IDF has been concerned for some time over the potential
for stepped-up capability among terrorist organizations.
Security officials have declared many times that every
stretch of road in the Territories cannot be safeguarded.
Israel lacks the resources to armor every vehicle in the
Territories immediately. The cost of such improvements comes
to hundreds of millions of shekels for protective measures
that are not even effective against all attacks. The central
question after last week's attack was, Why wasn't the bus
armored? After the major attack in Kfar Darom one year ago,
millions of shekels were allocated to equip buses with
bulletproof and rock-proof windows and sides and to provide
army escorts for buses lacking such protection.
Ten buses travel Line 189 between Bnei Brak and Emmanuel
every day. According to agreements with the Dan Bus Company
some of these buses are supposed to be equipped with
bulletproofing, including the ill-fated bus that departed
from Bnei Brak around 5:00 p.m. last Wednesday.
Following the bloody attack, some family members related that
they would generally try to send their children on the
specially equipped buses even though they themselves often
travelled in private vehicles "to ensure the children's
safety and to avoid exposing them to danger."
Rabbi Yissochor Frankental, head of the Emmanuel Local
Council, has been waging an ongoing battle with Dan over
protected buses. According to the agreement made with the
company, all of the buses on Line 189 were scheduled to be
armored by January 1st. Until then, all evening and nighttime
buses were supposed to be armored. "Dan did not meet its end
of the deal . . . " said Frankental.
Dan says that their buses meet the guidelines set by national
security officials. Only 10 of the 47 bus lines operated by
Dan in the territories are completely bulletproof. The other
37 buses provide protection only against rocks and firebombs.
Another 11 buses slated for use by Dan are awaiting
The cost of bulletproof protection--over NIS 400,000
($100,000) per bus--is covered by the Defense Ministry, but
installation can take months, which makes it hard on bus
companies. Armored buses also weigh three tons more than
standard buses, causing logistical and mechanical problems
that must be overcome.
The Defense Ministry accused Dan of failing to meet its
guidelines for bus protection measures, saying that over the
past year Dan was given a special budget allocation by the
Finance Ministry to armor ten buses.
Dan's spokesman replied that the company has no interest in
debating the Transportation Ministry, but said their
statements are inconsistent with actual practice. "All of the
money transferred to Dan for armoring buses was used, and I
can say that Dan operates buses in accordance with the
guidelines and dictates issued by security officials. On the
road where the attack took place [buses] were only required
to have protection against rocks."
One way or another, police sources say that even a bus with
bulletproof armor would only have prevented some of the
damage and the casualties inside the bus.
Yaakov Tzarfati and his sons Chanan and Dovid
Yaakov Tzarfati (64) Hy"d, lived in Kfar Saba, and
after his son Dovid (38) Hy"d did teshuva and
became a Breslover chossid, the entire family returned to
their roots. The family members used every opportunity to
participate in shiurim, imbibing more and more Torah
and yiras Shomayim.
When their father Yaakov suffered a serious heart attack, the
family moved to Ginot Shomron where one of his daughters was
living. One-and-a-half months ago Yaakov and his wife moved
to Emmanuel with their sons Dovid and Chanan (32). The family
was driving behind the bus when the bombs exploded, damaging
the Ford Sierra they were traveling in as well. The brothers
shielded their mother to protect her from shots fired by the
gunman, thereby saving her life. The father and both sons
were murdered on the spot.
The levayas, held at the cemetery in Kfar Saba, were
attended by hundreds, including many Kfar Saba and Ginot
Shomron residents, and friends of Chanan and Dovid. When the
rabbonim began to say divrei his'orerus, heart-rending
cries of grief were heard from the large crowd on hand.
R' Yaakov is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Dov Moshe Gutman
by B. Kahn
HaKodosh Dov Moshe Gutman H"yd, was born in
Akko 40 years ago. His father passed away while he was still
a boy, around the time Emmanuel was founded, and his mother
decided to raise the children in the new settlement. After
his marriage, Gutman set up a home in Emmanuel, where he
remained up to his last day.
Gutman was well-regarded by his neighbors in Emmanuel. He
kept regular itim leTorah and provided a solid Torah
education for his nine children ylct"a. He provided
for his family by working as a mashgiach kashrus, and
for several years was employed by the Belz kashrus
organization, Machzikei HaDas. His main task was to conduct
inspections of agricultural products in the area north of
Hadera and in various parts of Samaria.
One year ago, soon after the onset of the current intifadah,
a huge rock was thrown at him by Palestinians while traveling
home from a kashrus inspection in one of the local villages.
He sustained a serious head injury and was hospitalized for
an extended period. Since his release he underwent
rehabilitation for over a year and was forced to stop
working. He was killed in his car while returning from Tel
Hashomer Hospital, where he had received treatments.
His levaya in Jerusalem was attended by hundreds of
Emmanuel residents, including HaRav Mordechai Eichler, HaRav
Meir Simcha Auerbach and HaRav Shlomo Charazi, who mourned
the loss of a man of yiras Shomayim and elevated
He is survived by his wife and nine children, ranging in age
from a 16-year-old daughter to a one-year-old baby.
by A. Cohen
Esther Avraham H"yd, whose life was violently taken at
the age of 42, was buried at a levaya attended by
hundreds of Emmanuel residents and by talmidim from
the Yeshiva Letze'irim in Rechovot and She'erit Yosef in
Be'er Yaakov, and led by the respective roshei yeshivos and
the rabbonim of the city.
Mrs. Avraham lived in Rechovot until two weeks ago when she
moved to Emmanuel, seeking the atmosphere of a Torah
community. While living in Rechovot she worked at the Yeshiva
Letze'irim, where she tended to all of the students' various
needs in order to allow them to sit and learn undisturbed.
With her motherly approach she spared no effort and was
wholeheartedly dedicated to the bochurim, who were her
source of joy and vitality.
Last Wednesday she was making her way home from Bnei Brak
with her daughter, where they had been making preparations
for an upcoming family simcha. The daughter's life was
miraculously saved when her mother used her own body to
shield her from the rain of bullets.
When the daughter, a student at the Bais Yaakov Seminary in
Jerusalem, left the blood-soaked bus, she phoned family
friends in Rechovot, informed them of the horrific attack and
of her mother's critical condition, and in a tear-choked
voice asked them to say Tehillim.
During the massive levaya that set out from her
parents' home in Rechovot, heart-rending cries were heard.
HaRav Nosson Sharabi, the rav of the Yemenite kehilla
in Rechovot, Rosh Yeshivas Sderot HaRav Aryeh Gamliel and
HaRav Yaakov Mualem spoke beside her parents' home.
Other speakers included HaRav Sholom Cohenovitz, rosh yeshiva
at Yesodos Letze'irim in Rechovot; HaRav Nissim Toledano,
rosh yeshiva She'erit Yosef in Be'er Yaakov; HaRav Avraham
Shaharabani, rav of the Sephardic kehilla and the head
of Mosdos Ateret Gabriel, where the deceased's son studied;
HaRav Netanel Aharon, rav of the Oshayot neighborhood; and
older brother Avishai Yeshaya, instructor at Talmud Torah
HaBe'er. Representing the government were Deputy Defense
Minister Gidon Ezra and Mayor Shuki Forer.
She is survived by her husband, Moshe, six young children,
her two parents and her five brothers and sisters.
by B. Kahn
HaKodosh Avrohom Nitzani H"yd was born 18 years
ago to HaRav Oded Nitzani, rosh yeshivas Sedeh Tzofim in
Avrohom was on his way to visit relatives living in Emmanuel.
He first studied at Talmud Torah Chai Olom in Beitar Illit,
and after reaching the age of 13 he continued his studies at
Yeshivas Breslov in Jerusalem. A year-and-a-half ago he began
learning at the Nadvorna Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, where he was
one of the most advanced students and a great masmid
who would rise early in the morning to begin learning.
When Avrohom began his studies at the Nadvorna Yeshiva, his
father asked a family friend who works as a melamed in
Bnei Brak to ensure that his son felt comfortable at the new
yeshiva. The melamed spoke with various
talmidim and asked that they try to make him feel at
home. Two weeks later, when he returned to check how Avrohom
Nachman had been received by his fellow talmidim, he
discovered that the new bochur had been sitting and
learning from the moment he arrived. His peers were soon
thoroughly impressed with his aptitude and he had become one
of the best-liked talmidim at the yeshiva.
He is survived by his two parents and his brothers and
sisters, who are wrought with grief and pain over the
histalkus of a ben aliya who spent all of his
brief years engaged in Torah study.
Yisroel Sariel Sternberg
Hundreds of Emmanuel residents participated in the
levaya of Yisroel Sariel Sternberg H"yd, a
prominent Breslover chassid and one of the town's first
residents, who was killed while returning from a visit to his
father who was hospitalized following heart surgery.
Yisroel Sariel Sternberg was born in 5715 (1955) in Tel Aviv.
After setting up a home with his wife ylct"a, he
returned to his Jewish roots and was among the leading
members of the Breslover community in Emmanuel.
Despite the suffering he knew as a diabetes patient, he put
tremendous effort into his Torah studies. Among Emmanuel
residents he was well known for his good disposition toward
all. He was a man of true avodas Hashem and
deveikus in tefilloh, an emblem of
chesed and goodwill, who tried to help others whenever
he could. He exerted himself in Torah, particularly in the
study of Or HaChaim HaKodosh, which he knew by
The levaya was held at the Yarkon Cemetery.
Since he did not have the zechus to leave behind
zera shel kayomo, the tzibbur has been asked to
learn le'ilui nishmas Yisroel Sariel ben Dovid.
Hundreds of Emmanuel residents participated in the
levaya of Yair Amar, 13, a student at Migdal Or in
Carmiel, who was killed on his way home for the Chanukah
His levaya, which set out from his parents' home, was
held according to Yemenite Jewish tradition. His aron
carried to Beis Knesses El Chochom, where he was eulogized by
HaRav Y. Anaki and HaRav Sholom Zechariya.
The rabbonim delivered divrei his'orerus to the
hundreds of heartbroken participants who mourned the murder
of a youth cut down at the peak of his spiritual development.
After they had finished speaking, seven ma'amados were
held in accordance with the Yemenite custom, and the last
ma'amad was done at the Yarkon Cemetery following the
hatoras nedorim at the cemetery's Shaar Hachessed
Gate. Inside the cemetery HaRav D. Grossman, head of Mosdos
Migdal Or, spoke of his diligence and exertions in Torah
Yair Amar was the son of Oren and Ora, who were among
Emmanuel's original residents.
His rabbonim at the talmud Torah in Emmanuel said that
from his early years Yair showed a strong desire to rise up,
and was always considered a bright and talented child who
thirsted for the words of his rabbonim. At home--a place of
unbounded ahavas Torah and chesed--he grew and
flourished, until he was suddenly plucked away during the bus
Yair is survived by his parents, six sisters and one
Border Guard Sergeant Yoel Bienenfeld
Sergeant Yoel Bienenfeld H"yd, 35, of Tal Shachar, was
buried in the military section of regional cemetery at Moshav
Gizo, located near Nachshon, after giving up his life to save
other Jewish lives.
On the evening of the terrorist attack, Bienenfeld was
traveling with three other Border Patrol soldiers in a jeep
that was transporting a security prisoner. Outside of
Emmanuel a frightened pedestrian notified them that a
terrorist attack had taken place nearby. Bienenfeld rushed to
the scene without hesitating. Three of the soldiers stepped
out of the jeep and had begun to treat the wounded victims
when they were assaulted by a volley of bullets from two of
the terrorists who ambushed them from the hill alongside the
In the subsequent exchange of gunfire, Yoel Bienenfeld was
killed and one of his fellow Border Patrol soldiers, Sergeant
Andrei Pak, was severely wounded. Another of the soldiers,
who had remained in the jeep to guard the prisoner, turned
the vehicle around, providing a shield for his fellow Border
Patrol soldiers until the IDF jeep arrived from Emmanuel,
running over the terrorist and killing him. A police patrol
car that arrived at the scene ensured that the terrorist had
been killed in order to prevent further casualties.
First Sergeant Yoel Bienenfeld is survived by a six-year-old
son, his parents and six brothers and sisters.
Yirmiyohu Salam H"yd, 48, moved to Emmanuel a short
time ago where he lived with one of his children. He worked
outside of the town and left every morning, returning home in
His friends recalled his friendly disposition and the words
of encouragement he regularly offered, saying he spoke to
young and old in the same manner.
Last Wednesday evening he was driving home from work with his
best friend, Avrohom Yaakobov, when they were shot by the
Salam was killed instantly and Yaakobov was severely injured.
The latter is currently hospitalized at Sheba Hospital at Tel
Salam was buried at the Segulah Cemetery. The levaya
was attended by his family members and friends. He is
survived by his three children.