The family and friends of an Israeli father-of-four stabbed and killed in the West Bank on Monday, have praised him as a dedicated teacher and family man.
Israeli security forces are still searching the area for the assailant, believed to be an Arab citizen of Israel from Jaffa, after the Monday afternoon attack inside the settlement of Ariel, the Israel Defence Forces spokesman said.
An IDF officer who identified the attacker began to pursue him in his vehicle and hit him but the attacker still was able to flee, according to the IDF.
The attacker’s backpack was found on the scene containing a change of clothes and his identification card, as well as personal items.
The victim, identified as Itamar Ben Gal, 29, a father of four from the nearby settlement of Har Bracha, was stabbed at a bus stop near the entrance to Ariel.
Paramedics worked to resuscitate him on the way to a hospital in central Israel, where he was pronounced dead. He had been stabbed multiple times on his upper body.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his condolences and said security forces are “currently chasing the murderers”.
In a statement reported by Times of Israel, Ben-Gal’s widow Miriam said: “I am here in my home, a home that my husband will not return to. Tomorrow we will bury him here in Har Bracha, a community that he loved so dearly and so wanted to develop.”
Others praised him as being “a good teacher and educator” ,“model father” and “amazing husband”.
Video footage emerged of the incident, and was posted online by the retired spokesperson & head of social media fir the IDF, British-born Lt Col Peter Lerner.
Imagine standing at the bus stop waiting for a ride and a cowardly terrorist stabs you from behind. This happened today at Ariel Junction, the victim Itamar Ben Gal, father of 4, from Har Bracha, collapsed and died from his wounds. pic.twitter.com/X2Z6wVf4kj
— LTC (R) Peter Lerner (@LTCPeterLerner) February 5, 2018
Israeli president Reuven Rivlin took to Twitter to say: “Deeply saddened by the news of the criminal terror attack at the entrance to Ariel, where Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal a teacher, an educator, was murdered.
We all send comfort and strength to his widow, his four young children, his family and his students, who will never forget him.”
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis took to Twitter to pay his respects, saying: “Whilst the murder of Itamar Ben-Gal earlier today, will likely receive little attention in the international press, we will continue to grieve following each and every one of these wicked acts of terrorism. May his memory be for a blessing.”
Commander of the ZAKA search and rescue group in the Shai region, Gil Bismut, said: “A terrorist stabbed a young man who was waiting for a bus at the hitch-hiking station outside Ariel. After resuscitation efforts at the site, the victim was evacuated in critical condition to Beilinson Hospital where he was declared dead. I and my fellow ZAKA volunteers remained at the site to clear the area of human remains to ensure a full Jewish burial.”
Whilst the murder of Itamar Ben-Gal earlier today, will likely receive little attention in the international press, we will continue to grieve following each and every one of these wicked acts of terrorism. May his memory be for a blessing. pic.twitter.com/xbE3a96BGu
— Chief Rabbi Mirvis (@chiefrabbi) February 5, 2018
There has been a spike in Palestinian violence since US president Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.
The move sparked outrage across the Muslim world, where it was seen as the US taking Israel’s side on the most contentious issue of the decades-old conflict.
Palestinian demonstrators have clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank and along the Gaza-Israeli border, and 19 Palestinians have been killed in the violence since Mr Trump’s announcement.