Fatah’s armed wing claimed responsibility for the murder last night of an Israeli couple near the West Bank settlement of Itamar. The Abdel Qader al-Husseini Brigades, affiliated with Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, announced on Friday that it was terrorists from their ranks who murdered Eitam and Naama Henkin on Thursday night, shooting them as they drove with their four children.
Senior Fatah official Mahmoud Al-Aloul, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was quoted by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).
“The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement Fatah, accepted responsibility for the Itamar operation carried out against settlers, leading to their deaths.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is the head of Fatah, the largest faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization. He is presently in New York, after addressing the United Nations General Assembly, where he announced that due to Israeli non-compliance, the PA is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords.
European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini on Friday released a statement in response to the murders, calling for a return to negotiations towards a two-state solution.
“Today we mourn once again the loss of human lives,” Mogherini said. “The killing of an Israeli couple has left four young children orphaned and, once again, civilians have been targeted so as to cause terrible suffering and to try to undermine any possibility of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU expresses its condolences to the Henkin family. The perpetrators of this act must be brought to justice.”
“Even in the face of such a crime, restraint and calm are needed on all sides to ensure that the violence witnessed yesterday and in recent months does not aggravate the situation further,” she said. “On the contrary, the continuing loss of life highlights once more the necessity for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
U.S. State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby released a brief statement on Thursday expressing similar sentiments.
“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place late Thursday evening in the West Bank. The shooting resulted in the death of an Israeli couple who were driving with their young children. We extend our condolences to the victims’ family. We urge all sides to maintain calm, avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragedy, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Thousands attended the funeral at Har Hamenuchot Cemetery in Jerusalem. President Reuven Rivlin, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi MK Eli Ben-Dahan, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, MK Tzipi Livni, former Shas MK and Yachad head Eli Yishai and other ministers and MKs attended the funeral. An especially heartbreaking Kaddish (prayer for the dead) was recited by the Henkin’s nine-year old son, Matan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also in New York after addressing the UN, blamed the PA leadership for inciting violence.
“It has been proven again that the wild Palestinian incitement leads to acts of terrorism and murder such as we have seen this evening,” the prime minister said. “If he continues to incite and if he continues to refuse to enter negotiations, it’s evident that he removes himself (from being a peace partner).”