The Shavuot holiday in Kochav Yaakov turned tense when Arabs entered the settlement late Saturday night – causing warning sirens to sound.
The town, where parents and children alike were out in synagogues to study in honor of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, found itself rushing to find children, shutter windows, and bar its doors as the IDF responded to the threat.
Ilan Malachi told Arutz Sheva about the tension that gripped the Binyamin region community.
"We call the emergency squad, and a friend said that apparently there is Arabs had infiltrated into the community. It was declared the highest level of alert, meaning the incident was certain.
"An entire IDF brigade arrived here, the entire thing, in full battle dress and readiness. They asked residents to enter homes or synagogues, rather than be on the streets where the infiltrators might be.
The alarm was first sounded when members of the local security team realized one of the gates they had locked previously was now open. Patrols were dispatched, and tracks were discovered.
Malachi said the defense team was faced with the brief dilemma of whether to announce the infiltration over the address system – potentially creating a panic – or to only notify the IDF. After a brief discussion it was decided to sound the alarm rather than "God forbid, risk an innocent running afoul of the infiltrators unawares."
Some of "the smaller children did panic, unfortunately, but the vast majority of our residents did not panic and behaved admirably. They are used to it," Malachi said, noting the community has had recent experience with security incidents.
Last month infiltrators penetrated Kochav Yaakov's fence; six months ago the school was broken into; as well as a series of livestock threats, and incidents wherein obstacles were placed on the road - or Molotov cocktails were thrown at cars and outlying houses in the community.
"Such is life," Malachi said ruefully. "We rely on miracles here."
As for Monday's incident, the IDF deployed from the community itself to the gas station, which is outside the community at the bottom of the hill next to the highway.
Meanwhile, community residents gathered in synagogues and homes, armed themselves armed with firearms, and continued with the holiday leaning "praying that with God's help it will end soon and be over."
Two hours later, soldiers identified a single individual's tracks entering and leaving the community. After several more sweeps by soldiers the community alert level was returned to normal - but the soldiers remained deployed until morning.
Malachi said talks with military officials – including the brigade commander – revealed that Kochav Yaakov and Tel Tzion are considered highly sensitive security zones. Nonetheless, an ongoing tax dispute has led the government to refuse to pay for repairs to the communities security fence - which was damaged by Arab rioters.
"Part of the fence is open and doesn't have alarms," he notes. "It's time to stand up and shout and make it clear to those responsible that we are living on miracles every day."
"We have to tell the authorities they cannot abandon us," Malachi added.