'I thought it was supposed to be me who was next'

Settlement in shock after father-of-two Yotam Ovadia killed in terror attack

Ahead of Friday afternoon funeral, Ovadia’s uncle recalls how his nephew would stop by his parents’ home every day after work before entering his own house down the street

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Yaakov Ovadia, whose son Yotam was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam on July 26, 2018 (Jacob Magid)
Yaakov Ovadia, whose son Yotam was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam on July 26, 2018 (Jacob Magid)

ADAM, West Bank — The father of Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in a stabbing attack in the central West Bank settlement of Adam, sat on a stoop outside of his home Friday morning in a daze.

Friends stopped by to console 66-year-old Avraham Ovadia, but he didn’t seem focused enough to respond to any of them. The lit cigarette wedged between his fingers burn down, unsmoked.

“He’s in complete shock,” said Avraham’s brother Yaakov. “His only son. He lost his only son.”

Yaakov said that his brother had lost both his parents and three siblings in recent years.

“After he got the terrible news last night that his son didn’t make it, he told me, ‘I thought it was supposed to be me who was next.'”

Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam on July 26, 2018 Courtesy)

Yotam’s uncle recalled how his nephew would stop by his parents’ home every day after work before entering his own house down the street.

The 31-year-old had been on his way to their house when he was attacked.

“Yotam was supposed to pick up ingredients for a romantic dinner he had prepared for his wife in honor of Tu B’av,” his uncle said, referring to the Jewish Valentine’s Day.

The deadly incident took place at approximately 9 p.m. Thursday evening.

According to authorities, Mohammad Tareq Yousef, 17, from the village of Kobar near Ramallah further north in the West Bank, climbed over the settlement’s security fence and walked deeper into the settlement, crossing a playground area. Reaching a quiet residential street on the edge of the community, Yousef saw 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia and stabbed him repeatedly in the upper torso.

The playground in the the West Bank settlement of Adam where Yotam Ovadia was killed in a terror attack on July 26, 2018 (Jacob Magid)

Daniel Nadav, an across the street neighbor, heard the screams and left his house to find the source of the commotion. Coming down from the steps of his home, he saw Ovadia covered in blood, collapsing to the ground.

As he recalled the experience for The Times of Israel, Nadav pointed to the blood-stained spot on the street where his neighbor had fallen.

Bloodstain on the ground after a terrorist stabbed Yotam Ovadia to death in the West Bank settlement of Adam, July 27 2018 (Jacob Magid)

“At this point, the terrorist saw that he had a new target and started moving toward me,” Nadav recalled.

The Adam resident said he gave Yousef a kick to the chest that threw the attacker several feet backward.

“The terrorist did the math and realized he’d have better luck with someone else,” Nadav said.

As Yousef turned around and spotted another resident half a block away, Nadav’s daughter called the police hysterically to report what she had seen from the family’s window.

During that time, Yousef stabbed a second victim in the upper body. The 58-year-old was rushed to a hospital in serious condition. He was upgraded to moderate after doctors managed to stabilize him later that evening.

IParamedics and security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack in the West Bank ( Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Neighbor Asaf Reviv had left his house to put a number of belongings inside of his car when he heard the shouts of the first two stabbings as well as Yousef’s skirmish with Nadav.

“At first I thought it was some sort of fight that had broken out,” the 41-year-old father-of-three said Friday.

“Then a teenager started approaching me. I asked him what had happened, but he didn’t respond,” Reviv said. “When I saw all the blood all over his shirt, I understood.”

But before he could react, Yousef had already drawn the knife back out from under his clothes and stabbed Reviv once in the soldier.

“Luckily I had a gun in my bag with me at the time. I cocked my weapon and fired once at his upper body,” the 41-year-old recalled.

The bullet pierced the terrorist’s shoulder from roughly ten feet away, but Yousef continued to advance toward Reviv. The Adam resident responded with three more bullets that killed the 17-year-old assailant.

Reviv was transferred to the hospital for treatment of his shoulder wound, and was released later Thursday night.

The father of three said that even before Thursday’s incident, he did not let his children play in the street as is common in many smaller communities throughout Israel and even the West Bank.

View of the settlement of Adam (Geva Binyamin), in the West Bank, as seen from the Jewish neighborhood of Neve Yaakov in Jerusalem, January 1, 2017 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Asked how he was explaining what had happened to his kids, Reviv said that he kept the details relatively vague as his oldest son is just 7 years old.

Babar Vanunu, chairman of the Adam secretariat, said the entire community is in utter shock from the incident.

“Despite all the stigmas, this is a quiet community. The attack unfolded on the quietest of streets as well,” he said.

While there was an attempted car-ramming attack outside the community of roughly 7,000 last year, this was the first time a resident had been killed inside the settlement.

Vanunu said a team of psychiatrists convened Friday morning and they will be meeting with each child in the community.

The secretariat chairman said that the settlement has an approved master plan to expand the community by 1,000 homes.

“We expect the government to advance this project. That is the true Zionist response to this barbaric act,” he said.

The home of Yaakov Ovadia, whose son Yotam was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam on July 26, 2018 (Jacob Magid)

Outside Avraham Ovadia’s home, neighbors were helping set up a mourning tent that will be used to host consoling guests over the next week.

As the Adam residents rushed in and out of the home, lugging dozens of chairs and prayer books, the father remained sitting on the stoop in front with the same blank look on his face.

A group of young boys walked by, hoping to console Ovadia ahead of his son’s funeral, but his vanquished look appeared to have scared them off.

While saying that none of them knew the bereaved father personally, “we still wanted to tell him that we’re sorry and that we’re here for him,” said one of them.

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