Survivors: Terrorist said ‘I don’t shoot women,’ before shooting one in the head

Daughters of Rosa Atzilov, shot and wounded in Neve Yaakov attack on Friday, recall their mother and sister pleading with shooter Alqam Khayri during deadly rampage

Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly terror shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly terror shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The terrorist who murdered seven people near a synagogue in Jerusalem on Friday night told people at the scene that he would not shoot women just before murdering one, according to eyewitness accounts.

Leora, whose mother and sister were at the scene of the deadly attack in Neve Yaakov, told Kan radio that her mother, Rosa Atzilov, had been shot and wounded  and that her sister was trying to help her up when the terrorist advanced toward them.

“When he got to them, they said, ‘Please don’t shoot us,’ and he turned around and said, ‘I don’t shoot women'” in fluent Hebrew, Leora told the radio station. He kept moving, she said, “and it seems that one of the women confronted him and he just shot her in the head.”

Moran, another one of Rosa’s daughters, also told Channel 12 news that the terrorist spoke fluent Hebrew and beyond his murderous actions appeared “to be a totally normal person.”

Alqam Khayri, a 21-year-old from East Jerusalem, shot and killed seven people — including two women — before he was later shot dead by police officers. It was the deadliest Palestinian terror attack against Israelis since 2008.

Security and rescue forces at the scene of a deadly terror shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Leora said her mother and sister were taking a walk together in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of East Jerusalem after Shabbat dinner. “They heard a noise that sounded like fireworks,” Leora told Kan. “My mother fell down, and my sister didn’t understand what had happened, she thought she had been startled by the fireworks.”

She then saw that he mother was bleeding and the two understood they were being attacked.

Liora and Moran, sisters whose mother was injured in the January 27, 2023, Neve Yaakov terror attack, speak to the media on January 29, 2023 (Kan TV screenshot)

“[My sister] tried to get my mother to hide because [the terrorist] was coming toward them, but my mother couldn’t move,” due to her wounds, Leora said.

She said that her sister tried to help their mother up so they could flee, “but she wasn’t able to, and she simply protected her with her body, and thought that this was the end for them.”

Leora said her mother Rosa was recovering from the trauma of the attack as well as the surgery she underwent on Friday evening. A bullet wounded her arm and “shattered a bone” in her leg, and doctors put a plate in her leg during the surgery, she said.

“We still don’t know if she’ll be able to walk normally, when she’s released, we still don’t know a lot of things,” Leora said. “We think there was a huge miracle here, and we’re thankful to God.”

The seven victims murdered by Khayri were identified as married couple Eli and Natali Mizrahi (48 and 45); Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56; Asher Natan, 14; Shaul Hai, 68; Irina Korolova; and Ilya Sosansky, 26.

Victims killed in a terror attack in Jerusalem on January 27, 2023, clockwise from top right: Asher Natan, 14, Eli, 48, and Natali Mizrahi, 45, Ilya Sosansky, 26, Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56, Irina Korolova, 59, and Shaul Hai, 68. (Courtesy)

Eli Mizrahi’s father, Shimon, said the pair had gone outside to try and help those who had been shot and were killed by the terrorist at point-blank range.

“We were in the middle of our meal, and there were several shots and my son jumped up. We yelled at him, ‘Don’t go anywhere,’” Shimon said.

“It seems that he was speaking with the terrorist, who pulled out a gun and killed him. [Eli] and his wife were murdered,” Shimon said. “[The terrorist] was standing next to his car and he shot them. He got into the car and fled.”

Shalom Borohov, a barber who lives near the synagogue, told AFP that after hearing gunshots he “went down to help people.”

“I saw the terrorist arriving with his car. He stopped in the middle of the intersection and shot from his car,” continuing to shoot as people came to the scene, he said.

Matanel Almalem, an 18-year-old student who lives nearby, told AFP that he ran down to the street after hearing the shooting and saw the gunman in a white Toyota Corolla.

“I heard a lot of shooting,” he said.

Israeli security forces and first responders at the scene of a terror attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, January 27, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Friday’s attack came following days of violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Tensions increased dramatically since Thursday morning, when an Israel Defense Forces raid in the West Bank against a terrorist cell left nine Palestinians dead — most of them gunmen and members of the cell, though at least one civilian was also killed.

The IDF said Thursday’s operation in the Jenin refugee camp was necessary to foil imminent attack plans by a local Islamic Jihad terror cell. The group had primed explosives and firearms, according to the IDF.

AFP and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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