The town of Itamar will hold a memorial ceremony Sunday evening for Rachel, Neriyah, Tzvika and Avishai Shabo, who were murdered in their home in 2002, and for Yossi Tuito, the community guard who died trying to save them.
The five were slain by a Palestinian Authority terrorist who infiltrated the Samaria (Shomron) community with the intent of murdering as many people as possible. The terrorist shot Rachel Shabo and all five of her children who were home at the time; two children were saved but needed extensive medical treatment.
Tuito was murdered as he tried to enter the home to save the family. He was survived by his wife and five children, the youngest just five months old.
Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, former IDF Chief Rabbi and head of the Itamar yeshiva, recalled the events of one decade ago. “A week before [the attack] I had trained [Tuito] as head of the local first response team, in what to do in case of a murderous terrorist attack,” he said.
“Until then, training had focused on terrorist attacks aimed at getting a hostage for bargaining,” he said, “not on terrorist attacks where the terrorist comes with the goal of murdering women and children.”
Almost nine years after the brutal killings, the town of Itamar faced a similar horror as Rabbi Ehud Fogel, his wife Ruti, and three of their six children were stabbed to death by PA terrorists from the nearby Arab town of Awarta. Boaz Shabo came to comfort the survivors.
In total, 20 residents of Itamar – a village with a population of just over 1,000 – have been murdered by terrorists over the past 11 years.
“People here understand that the existential battle we are in is not for the sake of Itamar, but for the entire state of Israel,” Rabbi Ronsky said. “We stand in the face of murderers of children with one single goal – to murder as many of us as they can.”
Rabbi Ronsky noted one source of comfort, “Here we have witnessed the fulfillment of what is written in the Torah, ‘But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out’ . After each murder, more people have joined our community, and more young men have come to our yeshiva.”