Palestinian Arab gunmen attacked a Jewish vehicle near the Hebron suburb of Kiryat Arba on Tuesday night, killing a husband and wife and two additional people who were hitching a ride with them.
Yitzhak and Talia Ames, both age 40, leave behind six children. The other woman, Kochava Even-Chaim, leaves behind a daughter and was also pregnant with her second child at the time of the attack. Avishai Schindler was the fourth victim.
Rescue crews and security officials who responded to the scene said the terrorists managed to hit at least two of the car's occupants in their initial burst of fire, and then moved in closer to execute their victims at close range. The bodies of all four victims were found strewn across the road with numerous bullet wounds inflicted from point-blank range.
In a horribly tragic scene, one of the responding rescue crew volunteers realized that his wife, Kochava Even-Chaim, was among the victims.
"We saw him crying at the scene and didn't understand what was hapenning at first. It wasn't the first disaster he saw," ZAKA rescue service official Isaac Berenstein told The Jerusalem Post. "Then he shouted, 'That's my wife! That's my wife!'"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack is further evidence of why Israel must stick firmly to its security demands. Many other Israelis said it is further evidence that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas either has no control over his people or doesn't care to stop them from killing Jews, and that in either case, he is not a viable peace partner.
"Even when Israel reaches out to them, the Palestinians make every effort to cut its hand off brutally," Likud lawmaker Ofir Akunis told Yediot Ahronot. "The whole world can see tonight that Israel desires peace while the Palestinians want violence and terror."
Settler officials urged Netanyahu to immediately return home, noting that previous concessions in the form of removing checkpoints had enabled Tuesday's attack, and that the Washington talks would inevitably result in more concessions that put Israeli lives in danger.
"This is a massacre that is not meant to foil talks, but is a direct result of negotiations and talks of concessions," Yesha Council Director-General Naftali Bennett told Yediot.
Right-wing lawmaker Uri Ariel (National Union) added in remarks to Israel National News, "It is clear by now – the most violent period is when there is a diplomatic process. Netanyahu must freeze the talks immediately and concentrate on safeguarding the security of the citizens of Israel."
Abbas' office issued a condemnation of the attack, but attempted to draw moral equivalence between it and Israeli actions by referring to the massacre as an "operation" and saying that Abbas objects to "any acts targeting civilians, Palestinians or Israelis."
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whom the international community sees as even more moderate than Abbas, failed to go even that far, and instead condemned the attack only because it "is contrary to Palestinians interests."