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Thirteen-Year-Old Girl Killed in West Bank Stabbing

By Noga Tarnopolsky | The Media Line

June 30, 2016

Israeli soldiers walk outside a house in Kiryat Arba in the West Bank where a Palestinian attacker stabbed a 13-year-old Jewish girl to death in her home. (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Hallel Ariel was stabbed to death while asleep in bed

[Jerusalem] Wednesday was the last day of school for Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, a talented dancer who starred in her school’s year-end show in the Jewish West Bank community of Kiryat Arba.

Thursday, she slept in.

Nearby, in the Palestinian village of Bani Na’im, 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, posted a poem on his Facebook page that lauded Majd al-Hadour, an 18-year-old girl from his Nablus-area village who last Friday is alleged to have carried out a car ramming attack against IDF soldiers near Kiryat Arba, where Ariel lived.

Part of his poem read, “Death is a right and I am asking for my right to die.”

Hadour was shot and killed in the ramming, and by mid-Thursday morning both Ariel and Tarayrah were dead, too.

Tarayah jumped the fence into Kiryat Arba, broke into the Ariel family home and stabbed Hallel to death as she lay in her bed. He was shot and killed by settlement guards who rushed to the scene, one of whom was also severely wounded by a stray bullet.

“Like all teens on summer vacation, my daughter was calmly sleeping when the terrorist came into her bedroom and murdered her in her bed,” Rina Ariel, Hallel’s mother, told reporters at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center where the girl was declared dead. “She was happy,” she added.

Ariel’s father, Amichai, said his daughter was “an amazing girl who hadn’t done a thing to anyone” and both parents called on Israelis from all walks of life to attend Hallel’s funeral.

“I ask that everyone look at our pain, come to comfort us, come to give us strength, come tell us that our Kiryat Arba is still a place to live in and not only in which to die. Hallel, may her memory be a blessing,” Rina said.

Amihai Ariel, a winery manager, is a cousin of Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. His daughter will be buried in old Jewish cemetery at Hebron, the ancient city alongside which Kiryat Arba, with a population of some 8,000, is located.

Hallel lost her biological mother, Shani, to cancer, when she was only 5 years old and was adopted by her father’s second wife, Rina. As the sun rose high above the town, gravediggers were breaking hard-packed arid land for a new grave adjacent to her mother, Shani.

Residents of Kiryat Arba began sharing a poem of their own, the verse, here loosely translated, “The lamb will sit in mother’s lap/ will lie in manger and sleep/ and the ewe will embrace her/ and call her by her name.”

Speaking with The Media Line, Malachi Levinger, the head of the Kiryat Arba Regional Council, said that he knew the family well. “They can only be referred to as salt of the earth. Salt of the earth,” he said. “This is terribly painful for us all. The family is known by everybody here. This is very hard for us. It’s been a long time since anyone permeated the settlement. But this will not break us.”

The stabbing was decried by Israeli politicians across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the terror attack demonstrated the “bloodlust and inhumanity of incitement-driven terrorists against whom we stand.”

Netanyahu called on the world to condemn the “shocking” attack as it did the terror attack in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month, in which 49 people dancing at an LGBT nightclub were gunned down in the worst shooting US history, the terror attacks in Istanbul earlier this week and the terror attacks on Brussels airport and metro earlier this year.

“Enlightened nations must…pressure the one who heads the network of incitement that leads to the murder of children in their beds and not the state of Israel, which is working to protect its children and its citizens,” he said.

Netanyahu added that he expected the Palestinian Authority to denounce the attack “clearly and unequivocally” and “take immediate steps to stop incitement.” Israel repeatedly accuses the Palestinian Authority of inciting against Israel, leading the wave of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces that started last October, during which time 34 Israelis have been killed, and some 200 Palestinians, either in the course of attacks or in protests against Israeli authorities, have died.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced a series of responses, including the lockdown of Bani Na’im and the revocation of his relatives’ permits to work in Israel.

Netanyahu’s office also announced that it had sought judicial approval to demolish the terrorist’s home.

Emmanuel Nahshon, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, tweeted that he hopes the European Parliament members “who applauded [Palestinian authority President Mahmoud] Abbas’ vicious lies last week” in Brussels “finally understand that Palestinian incitement leads to murder.”

Addressing the European Parliament, Abbas claimed that the Israeli presence in the West Bank was the root cause of terrorism worldwide, and repeated an old anti-Semitic blood libel about Jews poisoning wells, which he was forced to retract the next day.

Zehava Galon, the head of the left-wing Meretz party, posted on her Facebook page that Ariel’s murder was “heartbreaking.”

“It’s impossible to imagine the amount of hatred needed to stab a 13-year-old girl in her bed, but it’s clear that too many children have died in this conflict,” she wrote.

Esther Miriam, Hallel’s dance teacher, posted a heartbroken post on Facebook, in which she wrote, “Noble and quiet and full of strength, like a bride, you danced yesterday in the massive Jerusalem show, in front of hundreds of women, your last experience before your life was cut short. How can we go on? How? Such an important part of us is so cruelly gone, with no warning.”

Reached by The Media Line, Miriam, convulsed by tears, said only “she was an amazing, amazing girl. I can’t accept that this is reality.”

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