Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Death at Emmanuel
by A. Zisman

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 shooting.

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, killing him.

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 welcome.

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 two groups.

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 buses.

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.

Standard Buses

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 bulletproofing.

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 midos.

He is survived by his wife and nine children, ranging in age from a 16-year-old daughter to a one-year-old baby.

Esther Avraham

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.

Avrohom Nitzani

by B. Kahn

HaKodosh Avrohom Nitzani H"yd was born 18 years ago to HaRav Oded Nitzani, rosh yeshivas Sedeh Tzofim in Beitar Illit.

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 heart.

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.

Yair Amar

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 break.

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 study.

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 attack.

Yair is survived by his parents, six sisters and one brother.

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 road.

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

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 the evening.

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 terrorists.

Salam was killed instantly and Yaakobov was severely injured. The latter is currently hospitalized at Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer.

Salam was buried at the Segulah Cemetery. The levaya was attended by his family members and friends. He is survived by his three children.


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