By Efrat Forsher, Meital Yasur Beit Or, News Agencies & Israel Hayom Staff
A firebomb attack on a private vehicle critically injured an 11-year-old girl and lightly wounded her father in Ma’ale Shomron, Samaria, on Thursday evening.
Avner Shapira and his daughter Ayala were on their way home to the El Matan neighborhood when their car was struck by a Molotov cocktail in a suspected Palestinian terrorist attack, injuring Shapira and severely burning his daughter. It was the second time in two months that the Shapira family car was firebombed while driving in the area, although the first attack ended without injury.
Moments after the firebomb struck, the car burst into flames, and the pair managed to scramble out of the burning vehicle. Carrying his daughter, Shapira ran to the neighborhood’s gate and shouted for help.
The El Matan emergency services team arrived quickly to assist the pair and to put out the flames. The firefighters called several emergency services teams, including Magen David Adom, Hatzolah Judea and Samaria and local volunteers. MDA paramedics Etai Tilinger and Walid Diwani treated Ayala and said that she was conscious but in severe pain.
Ayala’s mother, Ruth, told Army Radio that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told her the assailant had been apprehended. Ruth maintained that the arrest was largely insignificant because the country is still essentially in a state of war.
‘This was an act of war’
Shapira had picked up his daughter from an extracurricular activity before the attack. She had planned to arrive home, change her clothes and go to a bat mitzvah party later that evening.
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“We saw the Molotov cocktail being lit at the side of the road,” Shapira said later. “I thought that if we drove quickly enough, we would be all right, but we didn’t make it.
“They like this spot — it’s easy for them to carry out an ambush here and then go back the villages they came from. It’s important to me to let everyone know that this was not a criminal act. This man is a soldier of the Arab enemy that is in an all-out war against us. This was an act of war and we must deal with it in kind.”
Ruth Shapira said, “Ayala is a very special girl. She is exceptionally smart; she was on the way home from an enriched math lesson for gifted students run by Bar-Ilan University.
“The Molotov cocktail landed directly on her and burst into flames. She managed to get out of the car and roll on the ground, essentially saving her own life. If she were not such a resourceful girl, we would not even be speaking right now.
“I am sure that she will pull through this, and I am asking everyone to pray for the recovery of Ayala, daughter of Ruth.”
Ayala’s grandfather, Michael Bronstein, was devastated by the attack, saying, “The officer told us that Ayala is resourceful. Since everything in the car was burned, including their phone, they had no way to call for help. So they walked home and called an ambulance from there.
“I am angry at the political environment, at those who don’t understand that this is a war, but instead look at this as a criminal incident. This is a type of war. All I want is for my granddaughter to be healthy.”
The doctor who treated Ayala, Sheba Medical Center’s Pediatric Plastic Surgery Department Director Dr. Eyal Winkler, said, “We are trying to resuscitate the young girl. She has very deep third-degree burns and wounds to her neck and arm and we are fighting for her life. To save her life, we carried out an emergency surgery to open her trachea.”
Ayala’s condition has improved slightly but she remains in an induced coma as doctors continue to treat her.
Ya’alon visited her in hospital and told her parents, “Be strong, Ayala is in the hands of excellent doctors. I wish her a speedy recovery. You have a very complicated time ahead of you and you must gather emotional strength to prepare for it.
“The goal of this terrorism is to intimidate the residents of Judea and Samaria, but from my knowledge of the people who live here, and from speaking with you, I know they will not deter us.”
Avner Shapira told him, “The Israel Defense Forces carries out high-cost operations like Operation Protective Edge, and here they call them criminals. They are not criminals, they are soldiers. I am not interested in the terrorists themselves, but in who is sending them.”
According to a Channel 2 report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Acting Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan to offer support after the attack.
“We are with you, we are here to strengthen you and please send our wishes for a complete recovery to Ayala and Avner,” he said.
Dagan responded, saying, “The appropriate response to this type of terrorism against innocent citizens is to strengthen Jewish settlement — to build, develop and expand it.”
‘A strong stand’
After the terrorist attack, police and military personnel arrived on the scene in large numbers.
Avner Shapira at the hospital – Photo: Ami Shoman
“We are asking the prime minister to take a stronger stand against these rioters and to take all the necessary steps,” Dagan said.
Politicians linked the attack to the upcoming elections, with Likud MK Danny Danon saying, “While [Labor leader Isaac] Herzog and [former Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni talk about peace, [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas are attacking children.”
Habayit Hayehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky said, “When a young girl is hurt by a Molotov cocktail, we should think about those people who delayed the budget allocated to protect cars in Judea and Samaria and preferred instead to complain about and oppose every shekel going toward the settlers’ security.”
On Sunday, a 4-year-old Israeli boy was wounded by Palestinians hurling stones at cars, and earlier this month a Palestinian splashed acid on a family with four girls, also in Judea and Samaria.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=22385