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Yeshiva Student Gave His Life To Save Dozens

The murderous attack in Otniel occurred when two terrorists, dressed as IDF soldiers and armed with M-16 assault rifles and several magazines, opened fire in the yeshiva's kitchen, adjacent to the dining hall in which over 70 students were eating. St.-Sgt. Noam Apter, who had returned to the yeshiva a few weeks ago after several months in the army as a section commander, heroically saved many liv
First Publish: 12/29/2002, 7:44 PM

The murderous attack in Otniel occurred when two terrorists, dressed as IDF soldiers and armed with M-16 assault rifles and several magazines, opened fire in the yeshiva's kitchen, adjacent to the dining hall in which over 70 students were eating. St.-Sgt. Noam Apter, who had returned to the yeshiva a few weeks ago after several months in the army as a section commander, heroically saved many lives in his last seconds of life by closing and locking the door between the kitchen and the dining hall. This prevented the terrorists from spraying the dining hall with their automatic weapons' gunfire.

The three students who were buried today were killed in the first burst of terrorist fire, but the fourth person in the kitchen - Noam Apter, who was responsible for the kitchen volunteers that night - jumped to the door and managed to close it, even though he was shot at while doing so. An eyewitness told Arutz-7's Moshe Priel, "It was truly a miracle, because the terrorists' objective was clearly the 70 students sitting in the dining room…" The speaker said that he also "grabbed a rifle and shot towards the kitchen, and this also prevented the terrorists from coming in, because they thought that we were in there waiting for them."

The sounds of the gunfire were heard at the "Lavi" Battalion Headquarters only a few hundred meters away. Within two minutes, several of the soldiers arrived by jeep and others by foot. A senior officer later said that their swift response "helped end the attack within minutes. If the terrorists had been able to burst through the door, it would have ended in a much worse slaughter." The soldiers and terrorists exchanged fire, after which the latter tried to escape, but were each shot and killed in a different location after a short chase. One of the terrorists managed to shoot and lightly wound three soldiers during the chase.

Gavriel Hoter studied in the pre-military yeshiva in Otniel, and was planning to enlist in a combat unit. Three years ago, he moved with his family from Kfar Adumim to the Golan to strengthen the Jewish presence there. Tzvika Zimen was active in the Gesher movement's attempts to bridge gaps between the secular and religious in Israel. He is survived by parents and five siblings. Yehuda Bamberger, of one of the first families in Karnei Shomron, was in the midst of a five-year hesder course combining yeshiva studies and 18 months of military service. He began his stint in the army several weeks ago.