In a terror wave which has reached nearly every corner of Israel, one small Jewish community has been hit again and again, most recently in the horrific killing of Dafna Meir on Sunday night. Meir was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist at her own home in the small town of Otniel, located in the hills surrounding Hebron, which has been a scene of sorrow too often in recent months.
Jews living in the Hebron Hills area, approximately one half hour outside of Jerusalem, have always experienced more than their share of trauma, both during the ongoing increase in terror attacks as well as historically.
Out of the approximately 135 Palestinians who have carried out terror attacks against security personnel and civilians in the ongoing wave of terror in Israel, a disproportionate number have hailed from Hebron and its surrounding villages – and many attack on their home turf.
Less than three months prior to Meir’s murder, more tragedy had come to Otniel. In November 2015, the nation of Israel united in heartbreak at the savage murders of Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his 18-year-old son, Netanel. Palestinian terrorists shot at close range the two outside of Otniel as they traveled in their car to a pre-wedding celebration for Rabbi Litman’s daughter, Sarah. The wedding was scheduled to take place within days of the murders.
The wedding was postponed in order for Sarah to observe shiva (the week-long Jewish mourning period). Then, in a strong act of defiance against those who sought to destroy all Jewish presence in Israel, Sarah and her fiance, Ariel Biegel, invited the “entire world” to their wedding in Jerusalem.
“Don’t let our enemies rejoice. We have fallen and we have risen (Micah 7:8),” Sarah wrote on social media. “The Jewish nation is invited to rise from the dust and celebrate with us.”
One month previous to the shooting, Avraham Asher Hasno, who worked in Otniel’s yeshiva (place of Jewish learning), was killed on a road in the area when Palestinians blocked the highway with burning tires and then attacked his car with rocks, forcing him to exit his vehicle. At that point, a Palestinian truck driver ran him over, striking him dead.
That same day, on the same highway, Palestinians attacked a car driven by Rabbi Re’em Hacohen, head of the yeshiva in Otniel, throwing huge, heavy rocks as it passed and damaging the car badly. Rabbi Yehuda Glick, founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, was also in the car. Thanks to what Glick called an act of God, neither man was injured.
Israel’s leaders have made it clear that changes are needed to protect Israeli citizens from those who do not believe in the Jewish right to the Holy Land. This week’s cold-blooded murder of Meir, a 39-year-old mother of six, is the latest senseless tragedy which highlights the desperate need to increase security in the Biblical Jewish homeland.
The heads of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Lobby, MKs Yoav Kish and Bezalel Smotrich, had a strong response to Meir’s murder, vowing, “Everywhere they try to uproot us, we will place more roots. Strengthening the communities and our sovereignty are the proper answers to Palestinian murderers.”
Chairman of the Otniel town council, Ran Dahan, demanded government action in light of the Meir murder, “We call on the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu, to stop hiding behind the illusion of a Palestinian state and start implementing sovereignty on the territory in Judea and Samaria,” he said in a statement following the tragedy in Israel’s Biblical heartland. “It is unthinkable that we’re in a situation in which 400,000 Israelis live under military rule for 48 years already.”