Hillel Menachem Yaniv, age 21, and Yagel Ya’acov Yaniv, age 19, brothers from Har Bracha in Samaria, were murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack while driving on Route 60 through the Arab village of Huwara on Sunday on their way to a Torah lesson. The terrorist took advantage of a traffic jam, ramming their car before shooting them at close range.
Jewish Israelis are frequently attacked on the road as it is the only route from many Israeli towns in Samaria to Jerusalem. After the 1995 Oslo accords, 38% of Huwwara land was classified as Area B, and the remaining 62% as Area C designated for settlement by Israelis. The Palestinian Authority was obligated by the accords to ensure free passage.
The terrorist escaped and police are still searching for the murderers.
Hillel was studying in the Kiryat Shmona Yeshiva as part of his Hesder program after completing service in the navy.
Esti Yaniv, the mother of the victims, addressed the young people of her community, asking them to learn Torah in memory of her sons and to serve in the IDF.
“We have suffered a huge slap in the face from God,” she said. “We are trying to find the good things and the grace that we were prepared for, that we had a family Shabbat, that we had good conversations with the boys yesterday, that we took family photos. God sends us graces. Even with this painful blow, He sends us graces.”
The Israel National Transplant Center announced on Monday that the brothers carried the organization’s card signifying that they wanted their organs donated. The Center said that with the consent of the parents, Hillel and Yigal’s corneas would be donated to people waiting for transplants to restore their sight.
Beit El Mayor Shai Alon was in a car directly in front of the victims at the time of the shooting.
“The shooting happened right behind me,” Alon said. “It looked terrible – it was gunshots [at] point-blank [range]. You are surrounded from the left and right sides; there is no way to escape. It cannot be that terrorists can possess weapons so easily and to freely fire [on Israeli civilians] point blank in broad daylight.”
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan called on the government to “change the paradigm and move from defense to offense. It cannot be that in the light of day, terrorists allow themselves to shoot innocent civilians. The insolence of terrorism proves that there is no deterrence. The people of Israel and the residents of Samaria are strong. We will not break in the face of the murderous terrorism of the Palestinian Authority.”
Dozens of Israelis responded to the murders by entering Huwara and rioting, burning cars, and throwing stones at vehicles. One Arab was killed in the clashes.
Otzma Yehudit MK Zvika Fogel gave an interview on Galey Israel on Monday night in which he expressed support for the riots.
“Yesterday a terrorist came from Hawara – Hawara is closed and burnt,” Fogel said. “That is what I want to see. Only thus can we obtain deterrence.”
“The act that the residents of Judea and Samaria carried out yesterday is the strongest deterrent that the State of Israel has had since Operation Defensive Shield. After a murder like yesterday, villages should burn when the IDF does not act,” Fogel added.
US State Department Ned Price issued a statement on Sunday, equating the Palestinian terrorist attack with Israeli riots.
“We condemn today’s violence in the West Bank, including the terrorist attack that killed two Israelis and settler violence, which resulted in the killing of one Palestinian, injuries to over 100 others, and the destruction of extensive property,” Price tweeted.
“These developments underscore the imperative to immediately de-escalate tensions in words and deeds. The United States will continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians and our regional partners towards restoring calm.”
Hundreds of residents from the region expressed their anger overnight on Sunday by repopulating Evyatar, a settlement that was first settled in 2013 in response to the murder of Evyatar Borovsky by a Palestinian. IDF troops tried to expel the residents at least three times and were finally successful on Monday morning.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Monday calling for calm.
“The IDF and the security forces are currently hunting for the murderer,” says Netanyahu. “We will find him, we will catch him and we will bring him to justice.”
“I am asking, while blood is boiling and winds are high — don’t take the law into your hands,” he adds. “I ask that you allow the IDF and security forces to do their work.”
In response to the murders of the two brothers, local Palestinians handed out sweets to celebrate the murders:
Criticism of the Israeli riots also came from within the Knesset. Labor party leader Merav Michaeli referred to the Israelis as “terrorists,” adding, “This cancerous growth that threatens the country must be excised as soon as possible before it leads us to utter ruin.”
MK Ofer Cassif of the allied Hadash party wrote that the violence was the work of “settler terror militias” working under the protection of the “occupation regime” to carry out “war crimes.”
Ahmed Tibi, head of the left-wing Arab Ta’al party, posted an image to Twitter, comparing the Jewish actions to Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogroms in November 1938 that marked the beginning of the Holocaust.
An article on Friday in the Guardian written by Orly Goldschmidt, the spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel to the UK reported that Israelis were targeted by over 5,000 Palestinian terrorist attacks in 2022.
Laid to rest
The funeral procession set out from their home on Monday 10:00 AM. The brothers were buried next to each other I’m the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery.
“Words can’t describe this disaster,” their mother said at a press conference ahead of the funeral. “Instead of bringing children to the wedding canopy, we need to bury them.”
“People, we are brothers,” she said. “We love the country, we love the army and we want security. The army is everyone’s and we shouldn’t use it for anything political.”
Their father, Shalom, added: “I plead that this is the last such incident. That all the children can marry, have children and build homes.”
Shabtai Naumberg, the brothers’ maternal grandfather, said his “two holy grandsons” have “gone up to heaven.”
“God will avenge them, and they from above will pray on our behalf, for the Jewish people, for the Holy Land and first and foremost for the Torah of the Jewish people,” he said.