“Absolutely horrific”. With these words, the ZAKA volunteers described the shocking sight that greeted them Friday night (11.3.11) when they entered the home of the Fogel family in Itamar, shortly after the terror attack that killed five family members. “We saw toys lying next to pools of blood, Shabbat clothes covered in blood and everywhere the smell of death mixing with the aroma of the Shabbat meal.” Despite their constant exposure to difficult and tragic scenes during the course of their work, the ZAKA volunteers described these horrific sights as “among the worst we have ever seen.”
Parents Ruth and Udi Fogel, aged 35 and 36 respectively, their three-month-old girl, Hadas, and two boys, Elad, three, and Yoav, 11, were stabbed to death late Friday night by at least one suspected terrorist who infiltrated the Itamar settlement southeast of Nablus. The family’s oldest child, 12- year-old Tamar, discovered the horrific scene when she returned to her home later in the evening, rescued two other siblings – aged two and eight – who were in a side room but unharmed, and raised the alarm. The family previously lived in Gush Katif, moving to Ariel and then Itamar after the Gaza evacuation in 2005.
ZAKA volunteer and regional commander Gil Bismot arrived at the scene within a short space of time on Friday evening with other ZAKA volunteers: “We discovered the family who had been murdered with such cruelty. The images were absolutely horrific – a slaughter of innocent children in their home. We did what we were able to do within the framework of the Sabbath. ZAKA volunteers watched over the bodies, which remained in the home through the Sabbath, in accordance with Jewish law.”
Immediately at the end of Shabbat, a large team of ZAKA volunteers from nearby Emanuel and the wider region were dispatched to the Fogel home, where they carried out their sacred work for many hours, clearing the terror scene and ensuring that all human remains were collected. In accordance with a request made by the ZAKA organization, the bodies were not removed to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. Instead, the identification work was carried out at the scene of the attack by Abu Kabir Director Dr. Yehuda Hiss in the presence of the Head of the ZAKA Rabbinical Council Rabbi Ya’acov Roget.
The funerals of the five victims will take place today, Sunday (13.1.11) in Jerusalem. The three orphaned children, Tamar (12), Roi (8) and Yishai (2) are in the care of their grandparents in Neve Tzuf.