Arab terrorists murdered 35-year-old Yossi Shok Friday afternoon, the sixth terror victim on Highway 60 in six months. The IDF said that it again will increase patrols on the road.
The terrorists shot Shok in the head from their passing car as he drove toward his home at Bet Haggai, 20 miles south of Jerusalem. He was rushed to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead. Two sisters, also from Bet Haggai and who were in the vehicle, were not injured when the terrorists struck shortly afternoon near the Har Menoach headquarters of the IDF.
Shok leaves behind his wife and five children between the ages of one month and nine years. His funeral is scheduled for Sunday morning from Bet Haggai. He was a member of Bet Haggai's emergency defense unit and served on the community's central committee. A native of Netanya, Shok moved to the southern Hevron Hills community shortly after he married. He worked as an engineer for the town of nearby Kiryat Arba.
Bet Haggai spokesman Yair Lior, son of Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, asserted that the terrorists used an approach road from the Hevron area village of Fawwar, where the IDF took down an army check post the morning of the attack.
The IDF closed the highway after the murder, but did not find the terrorists or their vehicle. Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists claimed they carried out the attack. The IDF has implemented a temporary general closure on Arab traffic in all of Judea and Samaria except for clergymen wanting to prepare for Christian holidays.
Brigadier General Yair Golan, head of the army command in Judea and Samaria, said he is sorry for Arabs who will suffer inconvenience by the IDF's having to increase patrols and checkpoints and carry out more thorough inspections.
The army consistently has decreased patrols on the road and then restored them after terrorist attacks on Highway 60, which connects Jerusalem with Gush Etzion and the southern Hevron Hills communities.
Two yeshiva high school students were killed this past summer on Highway 60 near the entrance to Bet Haggai, and three people - a yeshiva high school student and two young women - were slain in mid-October at the Gush Etzion junction. Each of the attacks occurred shortly after the army took down checkpoints as good will measures for the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Hevron Hills regional council chairman Tzviki Bar Chai, who once served as an aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he was Infrastructures Minister during the government of Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, blamed the Prime Minister and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for Shok's death. "The terrorists are telling us that there is no one with whom to talk. Their intention is to open up traffic from Gaza to the Hevron Hills and increase terror," Bar Chai stated.
Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) also blamed soft governmental policies for the attack. "The Prime Minister and Defense Minister allowed armed Arabs on the roads in order to ensure Palestinian Authority (PA) elections despite repeated warnings of the danger of causing terrorist attacks against Israelis," he said
An aide to the Prime Minister declared that the government will not tolerate terror. David Baker said, "While the Palestinian Authority doesn't lift a finger to fight terror against Israelis, Israel cannot be expected to sit by idly, nor will we."
Lior of Bet Haggai said, "The murderer is sitting in Sharon's bureau."
Arab terrorists shot at Israeli motorists, killing one and injuring two others, in the southern Hevron Hills region Friday afternoon.
The attack took place 20 miles south of Jerusalem, between Beit Haggai and Har Manoah - a region slated to be left on the Arab side of the Partition Fence. The terrorists opened fire from a vehicle driving in the opposite direction.
The critically-injured 35-year-old male victim, a resident of Beit Haggai and father of five, was transported to Hadassa Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead.
IDF forces have deployed in the region to search for the terrorists.
There have been increasing rock and firebomb attacks in the region in recent weeks.
Hevron Hills Mayor Tzviki Bar-Chai called upon Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to order an all-out offensive on terror groups operating in the region. He blamed Israel's planned facilitation of "safe passage routes" (Arab convoys from Gaza to Judea and Samaria) for the brazen attack.
A full closure has been placed on Judea and Samaria and Gaza following the firing of Kassam rockets at Ashkelon Thursday night.
Yossi Shok, the 54th casualty of anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism this year, was buried today in the Jewish cemetery in Hevron.
Shok, 35, was shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists from a car that passed his own vehicle. He was on his way home on Friday afternoon to Beit Haggai, south of Kiryat Arba, and 20 miles south of Jerusalem; with him in the car were two sisters, also residents of Beit Haggai, who were physically unharmed in the attack. They said they noticed something amiss when a car overtook them with its window open in a heavy rain - but that before they had a chance to react, massive fire was opened at them.
Shok was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where he was pronounced dead.
Five other Jews have been murdered in the past six months in two similar attacks by what is assumed to be the same terrorist cell. In June, teenagers Avichai Levy, also of Beit Haggai and Amiad Mantzur of nearby Otniel were murdered via shots fired from a car as they stood on the side of the road near Beit Haggai. Two months ago, three Jews, including newlywed Matat Adler, 21, her cousin Kineret Mandel, 23, and 9th-grader Oz Ben-Meir, were murdered as they waited for a ride at the Gush Etzion junction. Each of the attacks occurred shortly after the army took down checkpoints as good will measures for the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Friday's attack, too, occurred just hours after the IDF took down a checkpoint on the approach road to the Arab village of Fawwar, from where the murderers apparently came. In response to the murder, the IDF said it would replace dozens of checkpoints on the roads in the vicinity and increase road patrols. It was reported today that the army had already reinstated 55 checkpoints in the vicinity.
Shok is survived by his wife Sagit, their five children aged between one month and nine years, and three brothers - including Arutz-7 Hebrew news editor Yigal Shok. Over 500 people took part in the funeral, which set off from Beit Haggai and ended in the Jewish cemetery in Hevron. His 9-year-old son Yonatan spoke of his father's "warm hug and many acts of hessed (kindness)."
Yossi Shok was a member of Beit Haggai's secretariat and headed the town's emergency defense unit. A native of Netanya, he moved to the southern Hevron Hills community shortly after he married, and worked as an engineer for the Kiryat Arba Development Company.
Arutz-7's Kobi Sela reported that dozens of cars took part in the funeral, and stopped at the site of the murder. "The residents are angry and very concerned," he reported, "at the removal of the checkpoints and at the fact that murderous terrorists are free to roam their roads. Some of them held a protest this morning outside the army headquarters, and one soldier came out and said to me privately, "If I could, I would tell you how strange some of the decision-making here is.'"
Prime Ministerial aide David Baker said after the attack, "With the Palestinian Authority not lifting a finger to fight terror against Israelis, Israel cannot be expected to sit by idly - nor will we."
Hevron Hills regional council chairman Tzviki Bar-Chai, speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew department today, said, "Today we're OK, but what about in 2 weeks and in four weeks? The problem is that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz don't see themselves as fighting an all-out war against terrorism..."
Knesset Member Uri Ariel (National Union) also blamed soft governmental policies for the attack. "The Prime Minister and Defense Minister allowed armed Arabs on the roads," he said, "in order to ensure Palestinian Authority elections, despite repeated warnings of the terrorist dangers involved."
Beit Haggai, despite its terrorism losses of the past few months, has grown by more than 30% over the past several months, welcoming some 20 new families.
Shortly after the funeral ended, a Kassam rocket was fired some 50 kilometers to the west, from Gaza towards the power plant in Ashkelon. No casualties or damage were reported.
Another tragedy that accompanied the killing on Friday was the car-accident death of Neta Yitzchaki near Shilo - just as her father Yinon, a member of the Kiryat Arba emergency unit, was responding to the terror attack.
Arab Convoys From Gaza to Hevron in Coming Weeks 11:15 Dec 16, '05 By Ezra HaLevi
Despite a Cabinet decision not to implement such an arrangement until the PA acts against terror groups, the Sharon government has agreed to allow convoys between Gaza and Hevron in the near future.
Sharon committed to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would begin facilitating "safe-passage" from Gaza to the Tarkumiya crossing near Hevron Thursday, but they were delayed due to the bombing of the Sharon Mall in Netanya last week and again due to the barrage of Kassam rockets Thursday.
Following the Netanya attack, the Cabinet decided to freeze talks on such convoys until the PA takes measures against terror groups. Such steps have not been taken and it is unclear whether the cabinet has retracted its decision or whether Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to implement the convoys regardless.
IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told Army Radio Monday that the convoys will not operate until rocket fire on Israeli towns stop and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz announced Thursday that the convoys would be delayed.
Defense Ministry officials report that another reason for the convoys' delay is the violation of recently made agreements regarding the Rafiah Crossing from Gaza to Egypt. Data on who is using the crossing has not been transferred to Israel in a timely or comprehensive manner.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs C. David Welch told a London conference of donors to the PA Wednesday that bus convoys would begin as scheduled, regardless of Israeli reservations. "We fully expect Israel and the Palestinians to implement all aspects of the movement agreement on schedule and we will help them to do so," Welch said.
Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim (Likud) sharply attacked the plan on Army Radio, calling it foolish and saying Israel should "just say no" to US demands.
Some Israeli reservations include the demand that one route instead of three separate routes be operated, that men between 16 and 35 not be allowed to use the safe-passage and the amount of time travelers are allowed to stay be limited to ten days.
Security officials are concerned that with Gaza now in the hands of various terror groups, the convoys will serve to import Gazan terrorism to Judea and Samaria.