Aryeh Gotlieb, who was driving near Hebron with Batsheva Nigri and her daughter when his vehicle was fired at in a terror attack, recalled the terror attack moment by moment to Israel National News, describing his emotions and the events which have unfolded since the attack.
Regarding his own condition, Gotlieb told Israel National News (INN) that he is facing an extended hospital stay, due to the severe injuries to his bones, muscles, and nerves. At the same time, he thanked G-d for the great miracles, and said he is "moving forward bit by bit, there is still a long journey, but the eternal nation is not afraid of a long journey, and with G-d's help we will remain strong."
Recalling the terror attack, he noted that it was a Monday morning, at around 10:10 in the morning, when he left to go shopping in Kiryat Arba, just a few minutes' drive from his home.
"At the entrance to the town there is a hitchhiking station," he said. "There I see Batsheva and Shirel, her daughter. Batsheva sits in the front and Shirel in the back. I say the Traveler's Prayer and off we go."
He explained that, "The road between Beit Hagai and Kiryat Arba is one of the most dangerous in Judea and Samaria, because a lot of checkpoints have been opened under the instruction of the Major-General, after they were closed due to terror attacks. Within a range of about seven minutes' drive, there are seven places from which a person can carry out a terror attack and disappear within ten seconds into Area A."
Gotlieb reached a pair of traffic circles on the road - traffic circles which were constructed in order to ease the movement of Arabs from Hebron and the surrounding villages, and allow them to more easily merge onto the main road. These traffic circles, he said, have become a death trap for the Jewish residents of the area, who are forced to slow down significantly in order to merge into the traffic funnel which empties large amounts of traffic from the surrounding Arab vehicles. The distance between the traffic circles is about 200 meters (just over 656 feet).
Even before he reached the traffic circle, Gotlieb noticed that traffic in the area was very heavy.
"The funnel of Hebron reaches there," he explained. "It's always crowded there, with trucks and vehicles, which places the settlers right into the jaws of the lion - the Palestinian travelers. I near the traffic circle and drive slowly. When I enter the traffic circle, I hear a burst from an entire magazine of an M-16. I feel a slap from the side - glass and the metal of bullets hit my face and body. I understand that they fired at us and I say, 'They shot at us, they shot at us.' Batsheva, beside me, does not respond, Shirel is asking what to do. I told her to call MDA immediately."
Gotieb continued, "I continued driving, while it was clear to me that I was going to die. We're talking about gunfire from a distance of two meters, fired directly at me. We were sitting ducks in a firing range, they emptied a magazine on me. At that moment I say Shema Yisrael and the confession, with the feeling that I won't last a long time. I thought, 'Where do I go - forward or turn back at the traffic circle to the Judea Brigade? Or straight towards Kiryat Arba, a distance of 4-5 minutes' travel.' I decided not to make a u-turn at the traffic circle, because maybe they were still waiting for me and would shoot me again to ensure I was dead."
"I continued driving straight, without knowing what my injuries were. I felt disconnected. It was clear to me that I was not going to last until Kiryat Arba, a distance of a few minutes' drive, when I was spraying blood in every direction, my windshield and window were shattered by the bullets. In a split-second decision I decided to continue until I saw a Jew who would help me. We continued with Shirel speaking to MDA on the phone. They asked where we were. I told her to say that we were at the Hakvasim Junction. I saw a construction project from Mekorot at the side of the road, where they are working on the new [water] pipe, and there are security guards there.
"I passed the two traffic circles, took a right in the vehicle, and stopped on the side, waiting for the security guard to notice me. After a minute the security guard came out. I told him that they shot at us and that he should call the center. During this time, Shirel was trying to wake her mother up and screaming, 'Mom, wake up.' It was clear to me that she was no longer with us. She did not suffer, and she was killed on the spot."
He continued, "The security guard brings Shirel out of the vehicle so that she won't continue to be exposed to the sight more than she already has seen. I remain in the vehicle with the murdered Batsheva. I'm waiting for them to come and save me. I closed my eyes and lifted my head so that I can manage to breathe. I feel like I am dying. After 2-3 minutes I heard army vehicles approaching. My eyes are closed and I hear someone saying, 'Two critical' and understand that from their perspective, this means that the paramedic has not yet declared death, but there are two who are no longer among the living."
At that moment, Gotlieb heard a familiar voice: Elyashiv Amitai, a well-known paramedic in the area, and a good friend: "I hear his voice and something in my heart moves. I tell him, 'Elyashiv, I don't see, bring me my glasses.'" At that point, Elyashiv began commanding the operation, while Gotlieb kept his foot on the brakes to ensure that the vehicle would not move. When they removed him from the vehicle, it began driving. With his last bit of strength, he reached for the key and turned the vehicle off.
Outside the vehicle, the paramedics laid Gotlieb on the ground, and Elyashiv ordered him evacuated - as quickly as possible, but calmly - to Soroka Medical Center. Gotlieb then tried to figure out where he had been hurt, and in order to test whether his brain still worked, he began reviewing Mishna. When he succeeded in doing this, he calmed down a bit. "I tell Elyashiv that I am slowly ebbing away, and he should give me anesthesia, the pain is indescribable," Gotlieb said.
When someone suggested calling a helicopter, Elyashiv requested that the ambulance driver stop on the side of the road to allow him to open a vein in his neck. "With absolute calm, with a knife, he opens my neck and saves my life." From there, the ambulance continued to Soroka, where Gotlieb was sedated and underwent a series of treatments and surgeries.
Gotlieb described to INN the warm embrace he has received from the entire country, and the visits from Religious Zionist MKs. He also described the feeling that the settlers are the emissaries of the entire Jewish People, in their travels on the roads of Judea and Samaria. At the same time, Gotlieb criticized the Major-General and his decisions: "The residents have great courage, and the Major-General, who worries about the Palestinians' welfare, is the coward who needs to do soul-searching. He is endangering the residents, for the benefit of the Palestinians. These are roads which were closed," he added, emphasizing that, "Even before Batsheva's blood had dried, he ordered the barrier at the Hakvasim Junction to be opened."
"There are two partners in a terror attack," he stressed. "There is the terrorist who murdered, and the one who allowed it to happen."
The security forces came to tell him that the terrorists had been caught, Gotlieb said, but, "This is not encouraging and it does not make me happy that they caught them. They should prevent the next terror attack. We have brave and elite fighters but the idea is to prevent terror in the first place. I don't understand this cowardice, of giving to the enemy at the expense of our, the settlers', lives."