Hanukkah miracle saved lives of Jewish couple shot at by Arabs in ‘Drive-by’


Returning home from a visit with their daughter, who lost her husband in a terrorist attack 13 years ago, Rachel & Shaul Nir were attacked by terrorist gun-fire.

By Efrat Forsher, Yair Altman & Shlomi Diaz


As terrorist violence continues to wash over Israel, a couple was wounded while driving in north Samaria on Wednesday when terrorists opened fire on them from a passing vehicle. The attack resulted in a crash in which Shaul Nir was seriously hurt. His wife Rachel sustained minor gunshot wounds to the extremities.

The 10 shekel coin that stopped a bullet in a terrorist shooting attack in northern Samaria on Wednesday evening – Photo: Roni Schutzer

The couple, residents of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City, were treated by emergency medical personnel at the scene and then transferred to separate hospitals for further treatment.

Shaul Nir, who is currently suffering from severe head injuries, was convicted of belonging to a Jewish terrorist organization known as the Jewish Underground in the 1980s. The group’s highest profile plot, which was never executed, was to blow up the Dome of the Rock.

Nir served six years in prison for murdering three Arabs. He was initially sentenced to life in prison, but his sentence was later commuted.

Security forces launched a manhunt in search of the shooters, who have yet to be apprehended. A vehicle was spotted fleeing from the scene of the attack toward the Palestinian city of Tulkarem‎. Overnight, security forces raided the city but did not locate the perpetrators.

An investigation of the scene of the attack revealed that one of the bullets fired at the couple hit a 10-shekel coin, and another bullet hit a water bottle that was in the car. It is possible that these objects prevented more extensive injuries.

The terrorist attack occurred at around 7:30 p.m. on an access road leading to the community of Avnei Hefetz. The couple had been leaving the community after having visited their daughter, Livnat Ozeri, who lives there with her children and grandchildren. Livnat lost her husband in a terrorist attack in Kiryat Arba 13 years ago.

At the time, two terrorists infiltrated the family home on Shabbat eve, murdered Nati Ozeri and wounded three others, including one of Livnat’s children.

Livnat, a mother of five, never remarried.

On Wednesday, terrorists targeted her family once again. “My mother and father came to my house to light Hanukkah candles and visit their grandchildren and great grandchildren. We ask everyone who can, please pray for their speedy recovery,” she said.

Avnei Hefetz residents have complained in the past that Palestinian vehicles were allowed onto Route 557 that runs adjacent to the community. “The Orot Junction was opened up about a year ago, and since then, despite repeated warnings by the residents and the military personnel in the area, it has not been closed [to Palestinian traffic],” the community spokesman said.

Earlier Wednesday, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed an Israeli army officer and a civilian in Hebron and was shot dead by security forces.

A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said the Palestinian attacked the victims during a “routine security check” in Hebron, a hotspot in the recent spate of attacks across Israel over the last two months.

Taking advantage of a momentary commotion, the terrorist stabbed the IDF officer in the head and arms. Yitzhak Struck, a resident of Hebron and the son of former Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Struck, saw the attack and rushed to assist the officer.

Struck, who was unarmed, confronted the terrorist and was stabbed in the legs. Seconds later, the chief security coordinator of the Jewish community in Hebron opened fire and killed the terrorist.

Struck also broke his arm in the struggle.

Orit Struck said that she had warned the head of the military unit stationed in the area. “This is such an obvious vulnerable point,” she said. “It is time for us to be able to live in Hebron in peace, and surely there are easier ways to resolve this, even if it means that the Arabs have to take a 10-minute detour. Isn’t it worth human lives?”

According to Struck, her son told her that he was the first to pounce on the terrorist with bear hands. “He is a hero,” she said. “Thank God there were others there to finish the job because Yitzhak couldn’t do it alone.”

The terrorist was identified as Abed Alrahman Masawra, 21. It later emerged that his cousin, Ihab Masawra, also 21, stabbed and critically wounded a Jewish Hebron resident in a separate attack three days ago. He, too, was shot dead.

The IDF is considering changing the security protocols in the area to prevent similar attacks in the future.


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