Terrorist shoots dead 7-month old girl during Rosh Hashanah meal

September 27, 2003

Terrorist shoots dead seven-month old girl during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) holiday meal.

A 7-month-old girl was among two Israelis killed and four Israelis wounded when a Palestinian gunman burst into a home where residents and guests were celebrating the start of the Jewish New Year. The gunman was shot dead by a nearby army reserve unit, before he could kill anyone else. The baby's parents were among the wounded. Jacob Dallal, an Israeli army spokesman, said "It's no coincidence that this attack was planned for this hour, the night of the Jewish New Year. Clearly the people behind the attack knew they could find families at home during the holiday dinner."



1. "Murdered In Holiday Horror" (New York Post, September 27, 2003)
2. "Gunman Kills Two as Family Celebrates Jewish New Year" (New York Times, September 27, 2003)
3. "Muslim militant killed making bomb; Israel on alert" (Reuters, September 27, 2003)
4. "Elton John promotes Daniel Pearl Music Day" (AP, September 27, 2003)

[Note by Tom Gross]

I don't usually send out details of individual terror attacks, but since this one has received so little press coverage in the 24 hours since it happened, I am doing so. It is probably no accident that the terrorist was dispatched by his handlers to kill people celebrating the Jewish New Year. This marks a pattern of attacks against Jews on their festivals, the most infamous of which are the Yom Kippur War, the Netanya Passover massacre, and various Nazi massacres timed to coincide with Jewish Holy Days.

Many of those newspapers that do cover yesterday's attack, barely do so. For example, the very last line of today's (London) Times article (headlined "Sharon dismisses promise not to harm Arafat," by Stephen Farrell in Jerusalem) states: "Two Israelis, including a baby girl, were killed last night at the start of Rosh Hashanah and another two injured."

The last line of today's (London) Daily Telegraph article (headlined "Sharon bows to US pressure over security fence," By David Blair in Jerusalem) mentions that "Two Jewish settlers, including a baby girl, were killed and two others wounded last night when a Palestinian militant opened fire."

Neither of these papers mentions the age of the girl, and the Daily Telegraph does not mention the fact that it was Rosh Hashanah. The Daily Telegraph also presumes that the baby was a "settler" without in fact knowing whether this was the case. Not every Israeli who attends a family celebration in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) lives there. (The 30-year-old Israeli man who was murdered along with the girl, and who has not yet been named, was a guest in the house, and there is every possibility he was not a "settler".) The attack occurred at 7 pm UK time, plenty of time for British papers to have covered this mass shooting adequately in the next day's papers (as they have done in the past when Israeli targeted strikes against individual Palestinian terror dispatchers were carried out in the evening.)

The Associated Press story, carried on the website of the (London) Guardian (headlined "Arafat Party Puts Together New Cabinet," by Lara Sukhtian), mentions the Rosh Hashanah murders briefly in the fourth paragraph and then a long way further into the story (in the 16th through 22nd paragraphs) for those that read that far. (In a very rare move the AP/The Guardian use the term "Palestinian terror attack" in this story.)

The fourth major quality paper in Britain, The Independent, did not mention the Rosh Hashanah terror attack at all, as far as I could tell from their web site. Instead, on their home page, next to "top stories" and "world news" items on the left, the Independent runs the following headlines on the right: "Debate issues of the day:

"Add Israel to the axis of evil What's more evil in mid-east?"

The Independent newspaper also runs a comment piece today titled "The time for decisions on Israel has arrived for British Jews." The Independent also finds space (for the second day in a row) to devote pages of space to the late Edward Said, the pro-terror Palestinian professor, including a piece of almost 2000 words lavishing praise on Said, written by Gabriel Piterberg who describes himself in his piece as "a non-Zionist Israeli."

Two of the non-Israeli papers which did properly cover the Rosh Hashanah attack were the New York Post ("Murdered In Holiday Horror," By Mideast Correspondent, New York Post, September 27, 2003) and the New York Times ("Gunman Kills Two as Family Celebrates Jewish New Year," by Greg Myre, New York Times). I attach their articles below. No doubt other newspapers will reserve prominent headlines and column inches for any future report should Israel take action against the planners of the Rosh Hashanah attack to prevent them murdering any more Jewish babies.

I also attach a story "Elton John promotes Daniel Pearl Music Day," (the Associated Press, September 27, 2003). Journalist Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in February 2002, was also a violinist, fiddler and mandolin player (as well as being an Israeli citizen). Please note that the "honorary committee" formed on behalf of the event includes personalities such as Barbra Streisand who have been notably silent in speaking out on behalf of Israeli victims of terror.

-- Tom Gross




Murdered In Holiday Horror
By Uri Dan Mideast Correspondent
New York Post
September 27, 2003

A Palestinian gunman burst into a West Bank home last night - as settlers were celebrating a holiday dinner for the start of the Jewish new year - and killed a man and infant girl before he was slain.

Two others at the Negahot settlement near Hebron were wounded in the attack.

Israeli security had been raised to a high level because of 40 "hot alerts" of likely attacks during the high holy days, which began last night with Rosh Hashana.

Initial reports of the attack said a gunman penetrated the settlement and knocked on the door of one home.

Although terrorists have repeatedly struck at settlers in the Hebron area on Friday nights, a family member - who apparently relaxed his guard because of the holiday atmosphere - opened the door.

The gunman immediately opened fire, killing the family's 7-month-old girl and a 30-year-old man who was visiting.

The intruder was fatally shot - but not before wounding two others, authorities said.

Israeli officials hinted at retaliation. "This shows again the ugly face of Palestinian terrorists," said a government spokesman, Jonathan Peled.

"It shows they are totally oblivious to the sanctity of life, the sanctity of religion."

Meanwhile, the Mideast "quartet" yesterday appeared to blame the Palestinians for the breakdown of the peace process.

Representatives of the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union issued a statement calling "on the Palestinians to take immediate and decisive steps against individuals and groups planning violent attacks."

The quartet's statement did not address Israel's controversial decision to "remove" Yasser Arafat at some point in the future.



Gunman Kills Two as Family Celebrates Jewish New Year
By Greg Myre
New York Times
September 27, 2003

A Palestinian gunman killed two people, one of them a baby girl, and wounded two more when he opened fire tonight on an Israeli family celebrating the Jewish New Year at their home in a settlement outside the West Bank town of Hebron. Israeli troops rushed to the scene and fatally shot the attacker.

Israeli authorities expressed outrage at the attack, which occurred as Jewish families were holding the traditional feast at the beginning of the new year's holiday, Rosh Hashana, which began at sundown tonight.

"This terrorist knew people would be sitting down to dinner at this time," Capt. Jacob Dallal, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said of the shooting, which occurred about 9 p.m.

In the West Bank, the gunman, who had an M-16 automatic rifle, knocked on the door of a home in the Israeli settlement of Negohot, Captain Dallal said. A man who was a guest at the home opened the door and was gunned down. The baby girl, who lived at the home, was also shot and killed, the captain said. The girl's parents were wounded before a nearby military unit shot the attacker.

The military said it did not have the girl's age, but Israeli news reports said she was less than a year old.

Palestinian gunmen in the Hebron area have carried out repeated attacks on Friday nights, when Israeli families gather for large family meals, Captain Dallal added.

No group immediately claimed responsibility. Israeli military forces, however, have carried out many raids in Hebron in recent weeks, killing several militants from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad factions, which vowed to strike back.

Tonight's attack immediately prompted comparisons to a Palestinian suicide bombing at the beginning of the Passover holiday in March last year. That attack killed 29 people at a hotel dining room in the coastal city of Netanya and was followed two days later by a major Israeli incursion into the West Bank.

Israel's security forces were out in large numbers today to guard against a possible attack as the holiday approached. In the hours before it began, Israel imposed a full closing of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which kept all Palestinians from those areas from entering Israel.

The measure was introduced to cover the holiday period, which lasts until sunset on Sunday.

It is more difficult, however, for the security forces to guard against attacks in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where more than three million Palestinians live. Israel has nearly 150 settlements in these areas, and Negohot is relatively small and remote.

In other developments today, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview that it would be difficult to seize Yasir Arafat without harming him, and that American objections to such action would have to be taken into account.

Mr. Sharon's government has faced strong international criticism for its decision in principle to oust the Palestinian leader. Israel has raised several possibilities, like exiling Mr. Arafat or even killing him. No action appears imminent.

"It is very hard to promise that if we seize and take him, that he won't be hurt," Mr. Sharon told Yediot Ahronot, a leading Israeli daily. "We must take the Americans into account. It could be that their assessment, that this would cause problems in the Middle East, is correct. Their main interest is Iraq."

Mr. Sharon has refused to deal with Mr. Arafat and has repeatedly accused the Palestinian leader of failing to stop suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinian factions.

The Palestinian leader has been confined to his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem, for much of the past two years. Israel has besieged the compound on several occasions but has stopped short of moving directly against Mr. Arafat.

The Palestinian leader is calling for a cease-fire, but the Israeli leadership says such an arrangement would be meaningless unless the Palestinians broke up the factions responsible for the attacks against Israel.

The Palestinians have accused Mr. Sharon of undermining a recent summer truce by pressing ahead with Israeli military raids in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

They also charge that Mr. Sharon is not serious about peace negotiations to end the three years of fighting and resolve the Middle East conflict.

In the latest Israeli operation, troops arrested 25 suspected Hamas members overnight in a sweep in Ramallah, the military said.

On another matter, Mr. Sharon cited American objections as the reason Israel had agreed, at least temporarily, not to route the barrier it is building to include the Jewish settlement of Ariel. The barrier, a network of fences, walls, trenches and other obstacles, is aimed a preventing Palestinian attackers from entering Israel. But incorporating Ariel, one of the largest settlements, would have sent the barrier about 12 miles into the West Bank.



Muslim militant killed making bomb; Israel on alert
By Mohammed Assadi
September 27, 2003

A Palestinian militant was killed when a bomb he was making blew up on Saturday as Israel maintained a high alert over a New Year holiday weekend coinciding with the third anniversary of a Palestinian uprising.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops arrested four more alleged militants in overnight raids in the West Bank after a Palestinian gunman infiltrated a Jewish settlement and killed a seven-month-old girl and a man of 30 who opened the door to him.

The gunman, who was shot dead later, also wounded the baby's mother and father in the assault inside the enclave of Negohot near Hebron on Friday night as Israelis sat down to festive family dinners marking Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year.

Intractable violence has stymied a U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan and international mediators meeting in New York on Friday put the onus on Palestinians to revive the process by subduing militants hostile to co-existence with Israel.

But the settlement attack could provoke a harsh response.

Ahmed Hassan, a member of the militant Islamic Jihad, died in Saturday's blast in the Gaza town of Rafah when a bomb he was assembling or handling detonated prematurely, sources in the group told Reuters. One other militant was wounded.

Israel clamped a general ban on Palestinian travel within and out of the West Bank and Gaza, except for humanitarian reasons, until Rosh Hashanah ends at sunset on Sunday.

Hundreds of masked militants firing assault rifles in the air marched in the Gaza city of Khan Younis to mark the uprising anniversary, vowing to keep fighting Israel.

Some held up pictures of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, whose mainstream Fatah national movement includes one of the three leading militant groups.

Other demonstrators burnt effigies of Fatah leaders involved in creating a new reform-oriented government led by a prime minister as called for by the U.S.-led "Quartet" of mediators.


Israeli officials again blamed what they called the Palestinian Authority's failure to crack down on militants for the settlement attack and the latest breakdown in peacemaking.

Palestinian officials again blamed Israel's continued pursuit of militants despite a unilateral truce they declared in June -- and later cancelled amid vows of vengeance.

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurie discussed a proposed cabinet with Fatah's central committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday and was likely to submit the list to parliament for approval in the coming week, officials said.

Qurie's predecessor Mahmoud Abbas, who had pledged to rein in militants and democratise governance to advance the peace plan, resigned after what he called obstruction by Arafat and military operations by Israel's rightist government.

Israel accuses Arafat of inciting violence, a charge he denies, and its cabinet has decided in principle to "remove" the former guerrilla leader, without saying when or how.

Arafat has since renewed calls for a ceasefire. But Israel spurned this as a ploy for militants to regroup, and the leading Islamic faction Hamas ruled out reinstating a truce in any case.

The "road map" lays out steps toward a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and since settled by 220,000 Jews.

But the plan was imposed on each side and does not stipulate who should do what first or how it is to be enforced, yielding only deadlock so far.



Elton John promotes Daniel Pearl Music Day
The Associated Press
September 27, 2003

Elton John is appearing in a public service announcement on television and radio promoting next month's Daniel Pearl Music Day.

"Join me and thousands of music lovers around the world carrying on his mission of connecting people through words and music," the 56-year-old singer says. "Participate in Daniel Pearl Day promoting harmony for humanity."

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in February 2002. He also was a violinist, fiddler and mandolin player.

The second annual Daniel Pearl Music Day will be celebrated Oct. 10, on what would have been Pearl's 40th birthday, in countries throughout the world, according to the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

An honorary committee formed on behalf of the event includes John, Herbie Hancock, Yo-Yo Ma, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman, Ravi Shankar, Barbra Streisand and John Williams.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.