The widow of one of the victims of the deadly terror attack in Elad last week on Sunday begged the public to not “murder him again” after it was revealed that her late husband unwittingly drove the terrorists to the scene of the attack.
Security officials have said As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, who carried out the deadly knife and axe attack, were driven by Oren Ben Yiftah, a 35-year-old driver from Lod, from the West Bank security barrier, where they are believed to have sneaked into Israel, to Elad.
Upon arriving, according to a statement from a security agency on condition of anonymity, the two attacked Ben Yiftah and killed him. From there, they headed up Ibn Gvirol Street, where they killed Elad residents Yonatan Havakuk and Boaz Gol.
All three victims were fathers in their 30s or 40s who left behind a combined 16 children.
“My husband Oren was a dear and beloved man, a man of peace, of unity,” his wife Nofar said in a video on Sunday.
“I turn to you keyboard warriors and call on you to show me a little compassion, to the widow, to my six children, to the family — we are broken and shattered. All Oren did was work as a shuttle driver and drive people,” she said.
“Oren is the victim of a terrorist attack. Don’t murder him a second time,” she implored.
A similar call was made by Ben Yiftah’s family on Saturday, when they said it was horrified by the hate directed at him for driving the Palestinian terrorists unawares.
“People of Israel, have pity on us during this trying time,” they wrote. “Let us grieve in these days of mourning without concerning ourselves with the need to defend against despicable attacks.”
They added: “How much hatred can come out when people’s fingers run freely on the keyboard.
“We are appalled by the discourse on social media and in the media in a vile attempt to link our beloved son Oren to the despicable attack he himself was a victim of.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 8, 2022
They said that Ben Yiftah “worked as an honest, innocent driver. Just as a taxi driver doesn’t check who gets into the taxi, Oren was not required to check permits for work or entry.”
According to Hebrew-language media reports, Ben Yiftah did not know the pair were in Israel illegally. He had transported them at least 10 times in the past to work in the ultra-Orthodox city, and was unaware of their attack plans.
Channel 12 news reported on Sunday that Ben Yiftah was part of a WhatsApp group, of some 250 members, that organized the ferrying of illegal Palestinian workers.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians are estimated to cross the security barrier illegally to work in Israel every day. The IDF has sought to crack down on the phenomenon during the recent wave of attacks, after long turning a blind eye due to the belief that there was a joint Israeli and Palestinian interest in allowing in cheap labor.
Ben Yiftah received a message on the day of the attack updating him that two Palestinians had crossed illegally from the West Bank and were waiting for a ride, Channel 12 said. It also said that earlier reports stating that the two had called him directly to pick them up were found to be false.
A report by Channel 12 on Saturday said that the two killers told Ben Yiftah they were doing urgent renovations at the synagogue on Yehuda Hanassi Street in Elad. When they got close to the synagogue, they attacked him with an axe and a knife, the report said. He fought back, but they overpowered him and killed him.
Though technically illegal, a number of Israeli drivers work transporting Palestinian day laborers who sneak in from the West Bank to job sites around the country.
Authorities believe al-Rifa’i and Abu Shqeir had worked in Elad before and were familiar with the area.
The suspects had no history of terror activity or affiliation with terror groups, Army Radio reported.