Toys strewn everywhere, broken glass covering the floor, and five members of the family surrounded by pools of blood. This is the crime scene that 12 year-old Tamar found upon returning home to the town of Itamar on March 11, 2011. Five members of the Fogel family were cruelly massacred in cold blood in their own home by two terrorists from the neighboring Palestinian village of Awarta.
The following is a breakdown of the crime, exactly three years after it took place.
On Friday, March 11, Tamar, the 12 year-old eldest daughter of the Fogel family, returned to her house in the community of Itamar. She came home after a Shabbat youth activity Upon arriving at home after midnight, Tamar found the door closed even though she remembered that her parents had left the door open for her. Tamar could not have expected what was waiting for her on the other side of the door.
Tamar entered the house and found it a mess: everything was overturned and disordered. In confusion and desperation, she began to search for her family. The bodies of her two younger brothers, 11 year-old Yoav and 4 year-old Elad, were laying on the floor, surrounded by large pools of blood. Tamar searched for her parents, Ehud and Ruth, in their bedroom and she found them dead on the floor. At their side was her three-month-old sister, stabbed in her crib. Tamar found her two brothers Roi, eight years old, and Shay, two years old, hidden in a room of the house.
This is the story that the police heard after arriving at the scene. They quickly dispatched investigation teams and special forces to search for the perpetrators of the crime.
After a few weeks of an exhaustive search and various arrests, the whereabouts of the criminals came to light. They were two youths, one of which was underage, and were residents of the neighboring town of Awarta. Six others were detained in connection with the brutal attack.
A Detailed Account Unfolds
The two principal suspects, cousins Amjad Awad and Hakim Awad, confessed to having carried out the attack and cooperated with the security forces in reconstructing the events.
The two terrorists, linked with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), planned the attack days before it occurred. As a part of their preparations, they analyzed maps of the region and selected Friday night to commit the attack because they knew the Jewish families would be in their homes to welcome the Shabbat. Once the assault was planned, they asked Mahmud Said Awad, a PFLP activist, to help them acquire weapons.
Awad was not able to get the weapons, so on March 11, 2011, Hakim and Amjad left their houses in Awarta with masks, machetes, and large wire-cutting pliers. They traveled approximately one kilometer by foot until they arrived at the Itamar security gate. They jumped the fence and crossed 400 meters of open ground until they arrived at the first row of houses on the hill, where the Jewish population was located.
Around 10:00 at night the attackers entered through the window of the house nearest that of the Fogel family. There was no one home, but the terrorists were able to steal a gun, bullets, and a bulletproof vest before realizing there were children in the neighbors’ house. They burst through the window of the Fogel’s home and quickly stabbed Yoav and his younger brother Elad. Advancing towards the master bedroom, the terrorists confronted Ruth and Ehud Fogel where they shot and stabbed the couple after a brief struggle. Hadas, a 3 month-old infant, was then cruelly stabbed before the youths stole a rifle and fled the house.
After completing their murderous mission, Hakim and Amjad then returned to their village and met with Hakim’s uncle, Salaj Aldin Awad, who had been convicted for terrorist activities with the PFLP. Awad helped them to burn their blood-splattered clothing to get rid of the evidence and hide the stolen weapons. A few days later, Jahd Abid, a Ramallah resident, received the weapons and hid them in his house. On April 14, 2011 a raid led to Abid’s arrest and the discovery of the guns.
This cruel attack clearly shows the brutal and hateful intentions of terrorist groups that operate in the Judea and Samaria region. In the last year alone, there have been multiple murders of Israeli soldiers and civilians in cold blood. The stories of Eden Atias and Tomer Hazan are two examples. Atias was stabbed and killed with a knife while simply riding the bus, while Hazan was kidnapped and murdered in the town of Qalqilya.
Outside of these cases, dozens of others have been prevented because of the regional checkpoints and intensive activities of the IDF forces in the region. The IDF’s hard work also led to the eventual arrest of the Awad cousins but the tragic story of the Fogel family highlights the importance of the Israel Defence Forces in the region.