The family had gathered for a Friday night Shabbat dinner to celebrate the birth that morning of a grandchild.
The Shabbat table was covered with a bright white tablecloth, laden with snacks, bottles of cola and an unopened bottle of whiskey.
They were waiting for other guests to arrive, the door of their home at the settlement of Halamish apparently open.
Instead, a 19-year old Palestinian, Omar al-Abed, from a nearby village, burst in armed with a large knife and began stabbing the members of the family. There were apparently 10 people in the house when he entered.
He killed the grandfather of the family, Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Chaya Salomon, 46, and son Elad Salomon, 36.
His wife Tova, 68, was seriously wounded and taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem where she underwent surgery on Saturday morning. When she came out, she was given the bitter news — her husband and two of their children were dead.
The couple are survived by three other children; it was the youngest who wife had given birth to the new grandchild that morning.
As Abed continued to stab the victims, the slain son’s wife managed to rush several small children to a nearby room and lock the door. She called the police and screamed for help.
A neighbor, who serves in an elite IDF unit, heard the cries and rushed over, shooting the terrorist through the window of the house.
Identified only as Sgt. A., from the IDF’s elite canine special forces unit, the soldier said he heard the screams of the victims, ran to the window of the house and shot and wounded the killer.
“I understood immediately what was happening — I saw the terrorist and shot him through the window,” he said, according to Channel 2 news.
“I understood the situation thoroughly,” he repeated. “I shot into [the house] from outside. I didn’t think a lot. I acted immediately.”
The terrorist was wounded by the shooting. Some reports said that as medics tried to save the victims, he jumped up and tried to attack them, before being subdued again.
On Saturday afternoon Abed was released from hospital and handed over to the security services for questioning.
Photographs released by the army showed the extent of the savage attack. Blood covered the entire floor of the living room and kitchen, staining one corner of the Shabbat tablecloth. Bloody footsteps led up the stairs and stained the walls. A couch and blanket were covered in blood.
Ze’ev Schneider, who was visiting Halamish for the weekend, told Israel Radio that his father was on his way to the family to join the celebrations when the community’s alarm system sounded. Local security told every one to lock their doors and windows as the army carried out searches for any further attackers.
Soldiers later went house to house in Halamish making sure that no one was missing.
An initial investigation after the incident showed that Abed had triggered an earlier alarm when he climbed over the fence of the settlement, but the alarm only went off in the community security control center. He managed to make into the house of his victims, some 150 meters from where he breached the fence, without being challenged.
The IDF was investigating how he managed to walk the three kilometers (2 miles) from his village to Halamish without being detected, and why the first alarm, when he breached the fence, was not conveyed to the local security unit.
The army said it appeared Abed had posted a Facebook post detailing his intention as he walked toward the community. He reportedly had a Quran with him. Before crossing the fence, he apparently performed some type of purification ritual, anticipating he would be killed. Empty water bottles were found at the site.
In initial questioning, Abed said he bought the knife two days ago, wanting to commit a terror attack because of events surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile IDF forces early Saturday morning raided the home of Abed and arrested his brother.
Troops were searching the village of Kobar for weaponry and suspects. They also mapped the Abed’s family home in preparation for its likely demolition. An army official told Ynet the 19-year-old terrorist’s parents were known to be affiliated with the Hamas terror group. Hamas hailed the attack late Friday as “heroic.”
Security forces have imposed a closure on Abed’s village, and only humanitarian cases were being allowed through as the operations inside continued.
Abed’s brother Monir, 21, was arrested. Officials said they suspected Monir aided his brother in carrying out the attack. Security forces said they were looking for any additional suspects in the Halamish attack.
Footage released by the military showed the early morning raid.
— חדשות 2 (@Channel2News) July 22, 2017
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night expressed his “deep sorrow” over the killings. “This was an act of terror perpetrated by a human animal, infused with abhorrent hatred,” the prime minister said in a statement, released minutes after the end of the Sabbath.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday visited the site of the terror attack and said Israel was demanding that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas promptly condemn the attack.
Abbas, he said, must issue “a clear condemnation of the massacre committed yesterday against an innocent family that posed a danger to no one, a terrible slaughter carried out during the family’s Shabbat dinner.”
Liberman was joined on his visit by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the two were briefed on recent events by local military commanders.
After consulting with senior West Bank commanders, Liberman said the terrorist’s home would be demolished swiftly.
The attack came after a day of heavy clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in and around Jerusalem over new security measures at the sensitive site.
Tensions have risen throughout the past week because of the new Israeli measures, which were introduced following an attack at the Temple Mount in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two policemen on July 14 with guns they had smuggled into the holy site.
The measures have included the installation of metal detectors at entrances to the site, which Palestinians reject since they view the move as Israel asserting further control over it. Israel insists, by contrast, that the security measures were necessitated by the July 14 terror attack.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday called on the Security Council to condemn the terror attack in Halamish.
“The Security Council must immediately condemn this despicable terror attack,” Danon said in a statement.
He also called for international condemnation of the Palestinian Authority’s “hateful incitement” against Israel, saying the West Bank-based government was directly responsible for the deaths of the Israelis.
In a statement, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “deeply deplores” the death of Palestinian protesters, and called on all political, religious and community leaders “to help reduce tension.”
UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Guterres also called for the killings of the Palestinians “to be fully investigated.”
Several hours later Guterres’s office released an additional statement in which the secretary-general “strongly condemned” the terror attack in Halamish.