Hebron-area settlements nix Palestinian workers after murder of Otniel mother
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Hebron-area settlements nix Palestinian workers after murder of Otniel mother

Jewish residents take to streets, block off West Bank highway after Dafna Meir killed; local leader bemoans ‘more orphans in family of terror victims’

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Soldiers, police and civilians block the entrance of the Otniel settlement in the southern West Bank on January 17, 2016. (AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA)
Soldiers, police and civilians block the entrance of the Otniel settlement in the southern West Bank on January 17, 2016. (AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Palestinian workers will not be allowed into the Jewish settlements located in the Hebron Hills on Monday, following the murder of a female resident allegedly by a Palestinian man on Sunday, the southern West Bank local government announced.

Dafna Meir, 38, was stabbed to death in her home in the Otniel settlement outside of Hebron on Sunday evening, while three of her children were in the house.

The terrorist is believed to be a Palestinian man who had permission to work in the Jewish settlement. He fled the scene after the attack, prompting security forces to set up roadblocks and lock down the area as they searched for him.

As a result of the attack, the Hebron Hills Regional Council decided to forbid Palestinian workers from entering the settlements in the area the next day, the council announced on Sunday night.

Dafna Meir, left, with her husband Natan Meir in an undated picture posted on Facebook. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Dafna Meir, left, with her husband Natan Meir in an undated picture posted on Facebook. (Screen capture: Facebook)

“More orphans in the family of terror victims. This is a terrible reminder that there is a war going on here,” Yochai Damari, head of the Hebron Hills Regional Council, told Army Radio.

IDF soldiers block the entrance of the Otniel settlement in the southern West Bank after a suspected Palestinian attacker stabbed to death Dafna Meir, a 38-year-old mother, at her home, January 17, 2016. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)
IDF soldiers block the entrance of the Otniel settlement in the southern West Bank after a suspected Palestinian attacker stabbed to death Dafna Meir, a 38-year-old mother, at her home, January 17, 2016. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Damari after the attack about the current security situation in light of the attack, his office announced on Twitter.

The attack sparked harsh condemnation from across the political spectrum and local anger as dozens of local Jewish residents took to the streets in protest after the attack.

The protesters blocked off the Kiryat Arba Junction of the Route 60 Highway, the main thoroughfare in the central West Bank, Israel Radio reported.

Meir was described by her neighbors as a “joyful” person — a nurse by profession and a foster parent to two children in addition to her four biological children.

She worked at Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center and was also a pre-marital counselor for brides.

Dafna Meir, seen in an undated photo, killed in an attack in her Otniel home on January 17, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)
Dafna Meir, seen in an undated photo, killed in an attack in her Otniel home on January 17, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)

“She was a happy woman, joyful, optimistic, driven, responsible, loving,” a neighbor, Yishai Klein, told Ynet. “Everyone in the settlement who was in pain knew they could call her 24 hours a day.”

Israeli troops launched a manhunt for the killer following the attack, declaring the area a closed military zone and shooting flares above local Palestinian villages in an effort to locate the suspected terrorist.

Netanyahu vowed the terrorist “will pay” for the death of Meir. “Dafna Meir, mother of six, was brutally murdered this evening by a Palestinian terrorist inside her home in Otniel,” he wrote on Facebook. “In the name of all Israelis, I want to give strength to all the children of the family. All of us are hurting and share in the painful grief. We will find the terrorist, and he will pay the full price for this heinous murder.”

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