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Slain US youth was bringing food to soldiers in West Bank

18-year-old Ezra Schwartz was youngest of 5 terror victims Thursday — the bloodiest day in recent wave of Palestinian attacks

18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, November 19, 2015. (Courtesy)
18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Junction, November 19, 2015. (Courtesy)

Ezra Schwartz, an American yeshiva student who was killed Thursday in a West Bank terror attack, had been volunteering delivering food parcels to Israeli soldiers in the area when he was shot by a Palestinian terrorist.

Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Massachusetts, was remembered as “a fun person to hang out with, very charismatic.”

He was one of three people killed in a terror attack near the settlement of Alon Shvut. He was studying for a year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.

He was a recent graduate of the Maimonides School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and had been a counselor at Camp Yavneh, a Jewish summer camp in Northwood, New Hampshire.

Schwartz, the second of five children, is the son of Ari and Ruth Schwartz. Geoffrey Cahr, a friend who knew Schwartz from camp, made the remark about him being fun and charismatic. “He was a great listener and super down-to-earth,” Cahr also told JTA.

Schwartz was killed when an assailant opened fire from inside his car at vehicles near the Etzion Bloc junction. Police named 51-year-old Ya’akov Don of nearby Alon Svhut and 24-year-old Palestinian Shadi Arfah of Hebron as the other victims of the shooting.

Five other members of Schwartz’s yeshiva were injured. Besides delivering supplies to soldiers, the group had also visited a nearby memorial to three Israeli children kidnapped and killed in the area last summer.

The United Synagogue Youth program which Ezra joined in 2013 released a statement saying he “is remembered as being a warm and funny member of the…community. Staff on his trip recalled today that he used his deep experience in Judaism to teach other teens how to participate in Jewish ritual.”

Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky spoke to Ezra’s family Thursday night, expressed condolences and offering assistance.

Sharansky said, “Ezra came to Israel not only to study but also to be a part of the vibrant Israeli experience. This makes his death even more tragic.”

Ya’akov Don of Alon Shvut was a father of four and a teacher, working as the social educational coordinator at the Derech Avot high school in Efrat. “He loved education and more than anything loved his students. A man of education and smiles,” said a statement released by Alon Shvut.

Yaakov Don, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Juntion, November 19, 2015 (Courtesy)
Yaakov Don, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Juntion, November 19, 2015 (Courtesy)

Arfah came from the village of Dir Samat on the outskirts of Hebron, just minutes away from the house of Muhammed al-Bast Haruv who carried out the fatal attack.

Thursday was the bloodiest day of attacks in the wave of Palestinian terrorism that has swept through the nation in recent months.

Earlier Thursday two Israelis were killed and at least two others wounded in a stabbing attack in southern Tel Aviv.

The two were named as Reuven Aviram, 51, from Ramle; and Rabbi Aharon Yesiab, 32, from Tel Aviv.

The incident took place in the Panorama office building at an entrance to a room next to the parking lot used for prayer, as afternoon prayers were taking place. Two more people suffered light and moderate injuries, according to officials.

Yesiab’s family said they were told he had warned others to run away. “We can console ourselves in the fact that he saved the other people (there) at the time,” an unnamed family member told Channel 2.

Aviram, who made aliyah from the Soviet Union in 1990, worked as a jeweler in the building. He left behind a wife and son, Uriel, who called him “a happy man with enormous heart.”

Uriel told Channel 2 his father was his “best friend, a humble man who left us before his time.”

The Palestinian terrorist was caught by passersby and arrested by police at the scene. He was taken to a hospital with light injuries.

Police identified him as Raid Halil bin Mahmoud, a 36-year-old father of five from the West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron, and said he did not have a criminal record.

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