A British-born West Bank resident has told how she found herself caught up in the middle of the latest terror attack in the West Bank, which left an Israeli soldier dead.

Esther Minsky

Esther Minsky

Esther Minsky, who is a Jewish News contributor, was driving to a doctor’s appointment when she approached the roundabout at the junction of Gush Etzion, when she heard a terrifyingly familiar noise.

“I heard loud cracking noises, as if someone was throwing firecrackers behind me,” she explained. “I reached the turn-off to the main road and saw the two soldiers stationed at the bus stop raise their weapons, as if to shoot. In a split second I realised a terror attack was taking place.”

She said: “I didn’t look behind me. I simply pressed my foot down hard on the accelerator and flew down the road. I noticed that my car was the only one on that side of the road. I looked in my rear-view mirror and there were no cars behind me as there usually are on this very busy road.” 

Minsky added: “What struck me was how surreal it all seemed. There was no other sound apart from the gun-fire, no shouting, no screaming, even the air seemed still. Only after I reached the medical centre in Efrat did I notice the first ambulance make its way to the scene.”

She would later realise what she had just driven through. Mamdouh Tousef Amru, a 26-year-old Palestinian maths teacher from Hebron, had been trying to stab Eliyav Gelman, a reservist Air Force captain, when soldiers reacted.

In the shooting, the attacker was downed and injured, but Gelman, who fought in Gaza in 2014, was shot and killed, in the first fatal “friendly fire” incident since hostilities began in October. He was 31 years of age and a father of two. His wife, Rinat, is seven months pregnant with their third child.

“He was my neighbour’s son-in-law,” said Minsky. “My dear neighbours, Ora and Benny. We built our homes together thirty years ago. Benny also taught maths.” 

At his funeral, Gelman’s commander Yair Vilensky said: “We know how much we owe you. You were quiet and spoke very little. But in the moment of truth, you were determined and professional.”

The attack happened on the same day that both U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Prime Minister David Cameron criticised settlement-building. The American diplomat said it was “not helping” while Cameron recalled the “genuinely shocking” encirclement of Palestinian areas of Jerusalem.

Israeli politicians appear to be pushing for an even tougher line against Palestinian communities, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly advocating the bulldozing of entire villages while Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel demanded Palestinian vehicles be re-routed away from major junctions.