Police have arrested two Palestinian teenagers suspected of brutally murdering five members of a Jewish family in Itamar last month. Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 19-year-old Amjad Awad and his 18-year-old cousin Hakim Awad had confessed to killing five members of the Fogel family on 11 March while they slept in their home in the West Bank settlement. The teenagers are residents of the neighboring Palestinian village of Awarta. "They admitted to carrying out the attack, how they knifed the children, killed the 11-year old-boy, the 4-year-old boy, the parents and finally the young baby," Rosenfeld told AP.
Speaking after the announcement, prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We don't know if arresting the killers provides a complete answer, but without it even a partial one is impossible.” He added that the investigators did their utmost to ensure the evidence was complete.
IDF commander Colonel Nimrod Aloni told AP that the teenagers had said during questioning that they "wanted to test their courage and bravery" by penetrating the settlement and stealing a rifle. He said the pair claimed they did not initially plan to kill anyone, but panicked when the baby started crying. After exiting the house, Amjad told officials that he could not resist the urge to go back in and kill three-month-old Hadas Fogel, who was left crying amidst her parents' blood.
Following the attack, the youths reportedly returned to their village and informed various family members of their deed. An uncle helped hide the knives, burn the bloody clothes and get rid of the M-16 rifle they had stolen. Other family members helped cover up the murder in other ways. The arrests of the two cousins followed several weeks of intense raids on Awarta by Israel's military.
Israel said the pair appeared to have acted without support from any organization, though some of the teens' relatives were members of the Palestinian militant group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.