Family and friends of the victims in Sunday morning’s terror attack in the West Bank mourned the two casualties — both in their prime, both dedicated parents to young children — in the hours after the grisly shooting.
Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and Ziv Hajbi, 35, were shot dead by a Palestinian terrorist. Both had worked at Alon Group, which manufactures waste management systems, at the Barkan Industrial Park near the settlement-city of Ariel. Levengrond Yehezkel was secretary to the CEO, while Hajbi worked in accounting.
Their families both said they would donate their organs.
Levengrond Yehezkel will be buried in her hometown of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel at 10 p.m. on Sunday. Hajbi’s funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Monday in the southern community of Nir Yisrael.
“She was all smiles, beloved and sweet,” her aunt Yehudit said. “The skies have shattered over us. But Kim will always be with us. I’m angry. Someone needs to answer for this and fast. It doesn’t make sense that parents should bury their children.”
Her friend Natalie remembered “an amazing, wonderful, kind woman, all about giving. A wonderful mother.”
Throughout the day, friends and relatives of Levengrond Yehezkel arrived at her parents’ home in Rosh Ha’ayin. Kim and her husband Guy had lived in Barkan, where the attack took place, up until a year ago, when they moved into an apartment in Rosh Ha’ayin to be near Kim’s parents. They have an 18-month-old child. Despite the relocation, Kim continued to work at Alon Group, where she served as secretary to the CEO. She had studied law and was preparing for her bar exam.
The suspect, a 23-year-old Palestinian man from the northern West Bank, was employed at Alon Group as an electrician. He arrived at the factory shortly before 8 a.m, armed with a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun, according to army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Inside, he tied up and shot Yehezkel dead close range, along with Hajbi, as well as wounding a third victim, according to eyewitnesses.
He then fled the scene, and Israeli security forces launched a massive manhunt for him.
“It happened on the administration floor,” said Smadar Leitenberg, another employee. “My boss always said every [Palestinian] he hires means fewer terrorists. I have nothing to add. Simply a terrible disaster.”
Hajbi’s mother Iris said her son was “a pure and amazing soul who left behind three children and a wonderful wife.”
She added: “On Saturday he’ll have a birthday, and he was only 35. I need to bury my son at 35. What have I done wrong in life? What will happen now?”
She said the family had realized early on that their son had been hurt. “We saw [the attack] was in Barkan and we started checking. I called him and he didn’t answer. I saw there were two critically injured, so we understood.”
Iris Hajbi said the terrorist’s family “should suffer. He cut people down there. They should kill him.”
Friend Asaf Dabul said Ziv was “a model father, a model husband, a model son-in-law, a model son. He was a wonderful man whose life was cut short by a despicable murderer.
“When you hear about such a case on television you shed tears in front of the screen, but when you’re close to it, and know the person well, it hurts tenfold.”
After the attack the suspect fled the scene, still armed with the submachine gun, the military said.
The IDF, Shin Bet security service and Israel Police, including special forces units, launched a manhunt for the gunman, and deployed additional troops throughout the West Bank in order to prevent “copycat” incidents — a common phenomenon after high-profile terror attacks.
A worker at the factory who was nearby told reporters that the terrorist also tried to shoot at him as he fled the scene. The worker, who carried a gun, fired back a shot at the gunman, but apparently missed. He said he recognized the suspect as an electrician who worked at the company.
“He has not yet been apprehended. We know that he is still armed and is considered dangerous,” Conricus said. “We do not know if he plans to carry out another terror attack or if he is just fleeing, but we assume he is still dangerous.”
The suspect worked at Alon Group factory and had a legal work permit. He was acquainted with his victims, according to Conricus.
He had been absent from work in the days before the shooting, but was still employed by the factory, Conricus said, refuting earlier media reports that he had been fired.
The IDF would not release the suspect’s name, but said he was from the northern West Bank village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem. According to the IDF, the suspect had no history of terrorist activities and was not tied to any terror groups, though several of them applauded his actions.
Earlier in the day, he had posted on his Facebook page that he was “waiting for [Allah].”
The businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park, located near Ariel, employ some 8,000 people, approximately half of them Israelis and the other half Palestinians.