The preliminary investigation indicates that two terrorists came from the nearby Arab town Dir el-Balah and waited for an Israeli car to pass by on the main vehicular artery into the Gush Katif region. The first burst of gunfire targeted a civilian vehicle, murdering Tali Hatual, 34, of Moshav Katif, who was eight months pregnant. Also murdered were her daughters, Hila (11), Hadar (9), Roni (7) and Meirav (2). As a second civilian car approached, the terrorists opened fire again, as was the case when the third vehicle arrived, an armored IDF patrol. The soldiers immediately returned fire and engaged the terrorists in a gun battle. As the soldiers pursued the attackers, an explosive device or a grenade was detonated against them, resulting in injuries. The terrorists were eliminated.
Prof. Aaron Vishnitzer, deputy director of Beer Sheva's Soroka Medical Center, reported that three terror victims are being treated, with a soldier and a civilian in moderate condition undergoing surgery and a second soldier in light condition.
Hamas, Yasser Arafat's Fatah and the Islamic Jihad claimed joint responsibility for the murderous attack. According to Voice of Israel's Avi Yissakharov, the Hamas is boasting that just as they are successfully driving the Jews from Gaza, so will they drive the Jews from other regions in Israel. In what has become a common scenario following terror attacks, Arab civilians in several locales under Arafat's control celebrated in the streets the murder of the Jewish mother and her children.
In a press release by the Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council of Jewish communities, the organization called upon the government of Israel "to immediately abandon its plan to uproot Jewish communities and instead to destroy the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, responsible for today's attack and the murder over 850 Israelis over the past three and a half years. Abandoning these frontline communities will facilitate shifting the battlegrounds to Israeli urban population centers."
In other Arab attacks against Israeli targets over the past day: soldiers came under fire in Shechem last night. The armed Arab was shot dead by return fire; a mortar shell landed near the Gaza community of Netzarim during the night; during the predawn hours, Israeli soldiers were targeted by Arab gunfire in the northern Shomron near the community of Kadim; an Arab male carrying a suspicious case refused to stop and identify himself when requested to do so by soldiers at a checkpoint in northern Jerusalem. As soldiers moved in to inspect his case, he tried to stab them and was taken into custody; Arabs fired at IDF soldiers operating near PA-controlled Jenin. No injuries in any of the foregoing incidents were reported.