The Iran Connection to the Slaughter in Samaria

Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin were murdered in front of their children by Fatah terrorists - but what role did Hezbollah play?

Ari Soffer,

Eitam and Naama Henkin
Eitam and Naama Henkin
Courtesy of the family

Despite being tragically accustomed to brutal, murderous acts of terrorism by Palestinians, the murder of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin has shocked many Israelis, given some of the particularly appalling details of the attack.

The young couple were gunned down in cold blood in front of their four young children as they traveled in their car Thursday night near the town of Itamar in Samaria - a town which has experienced its fair share of bloody Palestinian attacks, including the infamous massacre of the Fogel family in 2011.

According to an initial investigation, while Naama was killed instantly in the hail of bullets, her husband Eitam, though gravely wounded, managed to stagger out of the car, open his children's door and shout at them to run. He collapsed and died shortly afterwards.

That heroic, heart wrenching final act may have saved his children's lives. Investigators also said that shortly after opening fire, one of the terrorists left his vehicle to confirm the death of the vehicle's occupants. Satisfied at what he saw, the killer and his accomplice quickly made off - apparently unaware of the presence of the remaining, terrified family members.

The Fogel family weren't so lucky; when the terrorists in that attack heard three-month-old baby Hadas cry as they left the house, they returned to decapitate her.

Another detail of particular significance is the fact that the terrorist group responsible for the attack is affiliated with the Fatah faction of none other than Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the "moderate" Palestinian leader with whom Israel has been urged to negotiate with, and who just one day earlier addressed the UN General Assembly.

It remains to be seen what action, if any, will be taken by Israel - diplomatically or otherwise - against Abbas and his Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority as a whole, in response to the attack.

But one detail which has been relatively overlooked is the possible role played by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia terrorist group which functions as Iran's chief proxy in the Middle East.

The Martyr Abdul-Qader al-Husseini Brigades is the particular faction of Fatah that claimed responsibility for the attack, which was deadlier and more professionally-executed than most other recent attacks by Arab terrorists in the area. The group - which is a branch of the better-known Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades terrorist group - also has cells in Gaza, and participated in 2014's war against Israel by firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

As noted previously by Arutz Sheva, as recently as last August a spokesman for the al-Husseini Brigades told the Lebanese Al-Akhbar that Iran plays a direct role in funding, training and arming his terrorist organization.

"There is always contact between the Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah and Iran," he said. "This is no longer a secret."

"These contacts take different forms, such as training, preparation, equipment, logistical support and developing the resistance and its weapons."

That same month, it was revealed that Hezbollah is actively attempting to recruit Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to form terrorist cells to attack Israeli civilians and security forces.

Those recruitment efforts were being aimed specifically at Fatah members, capitalizing on preexisting links between the two terrorist groups, which facilitated several deadly attacks during the Second Intifada. The decision to work with Fatah and not Sunni Islamist groups like Hamas was also presumably in part due to the fact that, as a secular Arab-nationalist group, Fatah's members would be less deterred from working with Hezbollah despite its role in fighting Sunni Islamist rebels in Syria. 

This new-old strategy by Hezbollah comes as it finds its ability to strike Israel limited by a mixture of tight Israeli security along the Jewish state's northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, as well as its own manpower problems given multiple, costly commitments in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Cooperating with Palestinian terrorist groups in Judea and Samaria would open up a new avenue for them to attack, while fulfilling the oft-repeated desire of Hezbollah's puppet masters in Iran to "arm the West Bank" for a new wave of deadly terrorism.

All this comes as Iran significantly ups its support for terrorist groups throughout the region following the recent nuclear deal, which promises a massive windfall in the form of sanctions relief and lucrative trade deals with the west - a fact grimly noted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN mere hours before the deadly attack.

Against this backdrop, with this deadly attack being carried out by a Fatah faction with such strong links to Hezbollah, it appears that Israel - like neighboring Syria - is already witnessing the start of a new wave of Iranian-directed terrorism, while western powers look on in deafening silence as the mess they created in Lausanne unfolds.




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