- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

ADORA, West Bank Yaakov Shefi was in the synagogue for Sabbath prayers while his three young children cuddled with his wife at home. Shefi heard shots in the distance not knowing that a Palestinian gunman had burst into his home and opened fire, wounding his wife and two of the couple's children. The third, 5-year-old Danielle, died.
"She saw our daughter breathe her last breath," Shefi, a policeman, recounted hoarsely, hours after the attack Saturday morning that left four Israelis dead, wounded seven others and underscored the vulnerability of isolated Jewish settlements like this one, set among Palestinian towns and villages in the hills of the West Bank.
Shefi's home, only a few yards from the settlement's perimeter fence, bore silent testimony to the suddenness and violence of the assault. The front window was smashed, with glass sprayed across the living room, and an upstairs bedroom its door decorated with brightly colored plastic figures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck was tracked with bloody footprints, a child-sized cot stained and streaked with crimson clots.
What was believed to be a trio of attackers armed with M-16 and Kalashnikov assault rifles cut through the fence an ordinary wire-mesh barrier topped with strands of barbed wire, but not electrified or fitted with any alarms leaving their wire cutters lying beside the neat hole they made. Then they made their way down a dirt path leading down a small rocky slope just above where the settlement's rows of red-roofed homes begin.
It was just after 9 a.m., and many of Adora's 52 families were either attending Sabbath prayers or, like the Shefi family, sleeping in or spending time with their children. Many of the settlement's residents are religious, and the Sabbath is rigorously observed, with no noise from televisions or cars breaking the day's silence along its brick-paved, rosebush-lined lanes.
Army officers at the scene said that after gaining entry, the gunmen split up one targeting the Shefi home, one heading for another one just up a small hill. Katya and Vladimir Greenberg, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, were riddled with bullets as they lay in their upstairs bedroom, and their 14-year-old son Natan was shot in his bed downstairs. Large spreading puddles of blood soaked the sheets.
Witnesses said the attackers were dressed in olive-green uniforms and flak jackets and were clean-shaven in an apparent attempt to disguise themselves as Israeli troops. "We thought they were ours," said a dazed elderly man walking aimlessly near the perimeter fence, who refused to give his name.
Volleys of gunfire went on for more than 40 minutes, the settlers said. Most people, in line with the settlement's emergency procedures, locked themselves in bathrooms and lay on the floor, trying to shield their children with their own bodies, as homes were sprayed with bullets.
Anat Harari, 41, said the gunman shot at her through the kitchen window, wounding her in the shoulder. She fled to the bathroom, where she called her parents on her mobile phone.
"I am on the floor, bleeding in a pool of blood, in the bathroom … I am talking to my parents without stopping. I tell them what is going on. I tell them it's not the army, it's terrorists in disguise. And I wait for help," Harari said later from a hospital bed in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
The settlement was lightly guarded. A few soldiers are stationed at its main gates. Like nearly all settlements, this one has a security squad made up of residents armed with assault rifles and walkie-talkies. At least one of two men shot down in the street Arik Becker, just short of his 23rd birthday was a member of the squad, the army said.
Yaakov Shefi, the father of Danielle, rushed home when he heard the shots. He said his wife, Shiri, had been upstairs with their daughter and two sons 4-year-old Eliad and 1-year-old Uriel when the gunman burst in, and had only a moment to try to protect them.
"She remembers pushing the children under the bed," he said. "She said, 'Be quiet and don't cry, so that they don't come back."'
The attack, one of the deadliest infiltrations of a Jewish settlement in 19 months of conflict, set off a military manhunt in the surrounding hills and valleys. Helicopters thudded overhead, armored personnel carriers blocked off roads and open-backed trucks ferried soldiers in full combat gear down into the dry wadis. An armed Palestinian killed by troops in the nearby village of Taffuh was one of the attackers, a military official said.
Many in the settlement complained bitterly that it took half an hour for army and police to arrive in force. Commanders said troops were rushed to the scene, but acknowledged the help did not come quickly enough to prevent the bloodshed.
Ayaleh Ben Ishon, a 51-year-old immigrant from Australia who has lived in Adora for a decade, said she huddled at home with her husband and 4-year-old son, listening to what sounded like an endless fusillade of shots.
"It's hard for us to know that this kind of thing will continue to happen," she said. "Because with all the hatred that exists, we know there can be no end to it."

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