The US State Department on Thursday night said it “strongly condemns” the terror attack in the West Bank in which an Israeli couple were shot to death in front of their children.
“The United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place late Thursday evening in the West Bank,” a statement from spokesman John Kirby said.
“We urge all sides to maintain calm, avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragedy, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added.
The murdered couple, Eitam and Naama Henkin, are survived by four children.
The attack took place shortly before 9 p.m. between the settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh, near the Palestinian village of Beit Furik.
Eitam Henkin is the son of Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin, who moved to Israel from the United States in the 1970s. His mother, Chana, runs the Nishmat institute, a Jewish learning institution that was one of the first to teach women Talmud and Jewish law. Rabbi Henkin, a noted Torah scholar and author of several volumes of responsa, also serves as the school’s Jewish law authority.
It was not immediately clear whether Eitam Henkin held American citizenship.
The couple will be laid to rest Friday morning at 11 a.m. at Har Hamenuhot in Jerusalem, also known as the Givat Shaul cemetery.
The Israeli family came under fire when they slowed down before making a turn. At that moment, a Palestinian vehicle accelerated toward the family. Two attackers opened fire on the family with a handgun and a rifle.
Both parents were struck multiple times in their upper bodies, paramedics said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
“It was a very difficult scene,” said MDA paramedic Boaz Malka, one of the first to arrive. “We saw a vehicle in the middle of the road, and a man in his 30s lying next to it with wounds in his upper torso. Inside the car sat a woman in her 30s, also with severe wounds to her upper torso. They were without any signs of life, and unfortunately we were forced to pronounce them dead at the scene.”
According to investigators, Naama Henkin was killed immediately. Eitam, despite suffering from multiple bullet wounds, stepped out of the vehicle and opened one of the car’s back doors, telling his children to flee the scene. He then collapsed on the road and died.
Investigators say the attackers stopped their vehicle, and one of them stepped out and walked over to the Israeli car and verified that both parents were dead. The man returned to the vehicle, which sped away toward a nearby Palestinian village.
The security services were hunting for the perpetrators.
Judah Ari Gross, Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.