“I wanted to believe it was just a dream,” said Rabbi Eitan Shnerb on Friday, recounting the deadly explosion that killed his daughter Rina and wounded him and his son Dvir as they were hiking down to a popular West Bank spring.
“We started going down toward the spring, [and] as we came close to the spring there was a roadside bomb. I have experienced several bombs in my life and been saved, thank God, but this one got us,” Shnerb told reporters from his hospital bed.
“It was a very big roadside bomb. It was black, everything went black … and I heard Dvir shouting to me, and I immediately called to Rina, shouting ‘Rina, Rina,'” he said. “I looked down and saw that she was not alive.”
Shnerb spoke hours after his daughter was buried in their hometown of Lod. He was unable to attend the funeral because of his wounds.
“Immediately after the attack, I understood … At first I wanted to believe it was just a [bad] dream, but when I saw Rina, I knew we had to do something,” he said.
“Dvir said to me we will be strong, we will protect the people of Israel and the Torah of Israel, and together we will move forward,” he said. “That’s what I also told Rina. At the same moment, her face was unmarked and serene, I gave her a kiss and I told her we will make sure to be strong.”
“Rina saved us, she absorbed it all,” he said.
Earlier he spoke at the funeral by phone, saying that: “We are trying to be strong here in the Land of Israel, the people of Israel, Rina believed in that.”
“Our response to the murderers is that we are here and we are strong and we will prevail.”
Shnerb also recounted how he used his tzitzit (ritual fringes) to make a tourniquet for his son.
“Dvir is doing a medic course with the Magen David Adom and we had earlier been talking about tourniquets, when you apply them, when you don’t,” said Shnerb. “Then I put a tourniquet on him with my ‘tzitzit’ that I was wearing because he had some cuts.”
Shnerb told reporters that he himself was in a good condition, but had a piece of shrapnel in his stomach and a broken hip.
Dvir was in a serious condition after undergoing surgery and was unconscious on a ventilator.
Earlier this year, Shnerb was recognized by the army for helping to thwart an attack on a West Bank settlement while serving as a rabbi in an IDF reserve brigade.
While checking the “eruv,” or ritual boundary, Shnerb spotted two Palestinians outside Har Bracha and alerted the soldiers. One of the suspects was shot as they were arrested and Israeli troops found a knife and pistol on them, according to the Ynet news site.
An improvised explosive device was used in Friday’s deadly attack, the IDF said. Police sappers determined that the bomb had been planted earlier at the spring and was triggered remotely when the family approached.
Security services were reportedly tracking a car that fled the scene shortly after the explosion. “IDF soldiers are searching the area,” the military said in a statement.
The explosion occurred at the Bubin spring — a popular hiking spot — approximately 10 kilometers east of the city of Modiin.