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Victim gives first-hand account of Friday’s fatal terror attack

Friend who was with Danny Gonen when he was shot describes the ordeal, and how he tried to save his friend’s life

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli security officials stand near the car belonging to victims of an attack by a Palestinian terrorist near the Dolev settlement in the West Bank on June 19, 2015.  (Flash90)
Israeli security officials stand near the car belonging to victims of an attack by a Palestinian terrorist near the Dolev settlement in the West Bank on June 19, 2015. (Flash90)

Netanel Hadad, who was moderately injured in a Friday terrorist attack near the settlement of Dolev in the West Bank, on Sunday described the course of events surrounding the killing of his friend Danny Gonen.

The 25-year-old Hadad, who like Gonen is a resident of Lod, is still undergoing treatment in the Sheba Medical Center for the wounds he sustained in the shooting, but he left the hospital briefly Saturday night to attend his friend’s funeral.

Gonen and Hadad wanted to go swimming in a natural spring called Ein Buvin near the settlement, Hadad told reporters.

When the pair reached the spring they saw “suspicious vehicles” and noted that the only other bathers at the site were Arab, “so we turned around,” Hadad said.

Netanel Hadad, who was wounded in the terrorist attack near Dolev in the West Bank in which his friend Danny Gonen was killed on June 19, 2015. (Flash90)
Netanel Hadad, who was wounded in the terrorist attack near Dolev in the West Bank in which his friend Danny Gonen was killed on June 19, 2015. (Flash90)

Driving away, the two were flagged down by a pedestrian as they reached a nearby intersection.

“We opened the window and he smiled and asked about the water in the spring,” Hadad said.

“He said, ‘Thank you,’ and we continued on our way,” Hadad said. “He kept walking and two seconds later called us back.

“We stopped again, and he started shooting — first at Danny and then at me. He went to the front of the car and kept shooting. While this was happening, I called our other friend and told him we were being shot at,” Hadad continued.

Their friend, who preferred not to be named, told Army Radio he was a few minutes behind the pair. He said he spoke with them briefly when they first left the spring.

“Four minutes later I got another phone call, during the event or a few seconds after (the gunman) shot them. Netanel told me that he was giving Danny mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and that he needed help.”

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Hadad continued: “I opened his belt, gave him CPR, and realized the situation was not good. I ran to the junction to make sure the terrorist wasn’t coming back.”

Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman (Facebook)
Danny Gonen, 25, from Lod, who was killed Friday, June 19, 2015 in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev by a Palestinian gunman. (Facebook)

“A minute later, two other cars belonging to Arabs passed by. One of the drivers stopped and got out of the car. I told him I didn’t know what to do. I realized he could be another terrorist. Then his friends called him to come back,” Hadad said, adding, “He realized this was a terror attack, and fled.”

Hadad, wounded in the shooting, returned to Gonen, who was critically injured, and improvised a tourniquet to try to stop some of the bleeding. “I called Magen David Adom and asked them for advice on doing CPR, and it didn’t work,” he said.

He was reeling from the “fear and the pressure and the adrenaline” of the attack, Hadad explained. “You don’t think straight. I was fighting for Danny’s life.”

Family and friends at his funeral in Lod on June 20, 2015 mourn Danny Gonen, who was shot dead Friday by a Palestinian gunman near the West Bank settlement of Dolev. (Flash90)
Family and friends at his funeral in Lod on June 20, 2015 mourn Danny Gonen, who was shot dead Friday by a Palestinian gunman near the West Bank settlement of Dolev. (Flash90)

Hadad and Gonen’s friend told Army Radio, “This story is a tragic one about the kindheartedness of two Jewish men and about a despicable murderer who cynically took advantage of that kindheartedness.”

Former IDF general Gadi Shamni told Army Radio that Israelis need to be more cautious when traveling through the West Bank.

Shamni, left, with former head of the Council of Settlements, Dani Dayan, and then-Chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (Miriam Alster/ Flash 90)
Gadi Shamni, left, with former head of the Council of Settlements, Dani Dayan, and then-chief of the General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi (Miriam Alster/Flash 90)

“Despite the summer vacation, despite the pastoral atmosphere, despite the silence, you need to be very careful,” Shamni said.

“Traveling through parts of Judea and Samaria,” Shamni added, using the biblical term for the West Bank, “is not like traveling through the Galilee or the Golan or the Negev. You need to drive differently, you need to coordinate, and if possible — just not do it.”

The former head of the army’s Central Command explained that there is often an uptick in terror attacks during Ramadan, which makes vigilance at this time of year all the more important.

“The army can’t be under every tree and under every spring,” he said. “You cannot behave in that area as though there is no danger.”

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