White House condemns West Bank killings of three Israeli children

The White House on Saturday condemned the stabbing deaths of five Israeli family members in a late-night attack in the northern West Bank.

The Israeli military is searching for a Palestinian infiltrator, or infiltrators, who it has accused of killing three young children and their parents in their home in Itamar late Friday night. This is the first deadly attack in several months. 

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of five Israelis in a terrorist attack in the northern West Bank, and we offer our condolences to their loved ones and to the Israeli people," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. "There is no possible justification for the killing of parents and children in their home. We call on the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn this terrorist attack and for the perpetrators of this heinous crime to be held accountable."

ADVERTISEMENT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she in a statement she "was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the brutal murder."

"The United States condemns this appalling attack in the strongest possible terms," she said. "To kill three innocent children and their parents while they sleep is an inhuman crime for which there can be no justification."

She called for the murderers to "be found and brought to justice."

"Israeli security forces have launched a thorough investigation and we look to the Palestinian authorities to assist in every way possible," Clinton said.

The Israeli military deemed the killings a terrorist attack, indicating that it held Palestinians responsible.

"We suffered a horrific terror attack tonight," said Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, head of the military’s Central Command, which is in charge of West Bank security, according to news reports. "An innocent family – a father, a mother and three of their children – were murdered in the middle of the night by despicable terrorists.”

Additional details of the attack weren't available due to the ongoing investigation. Israeli media reported that the family members were stabbed to death by a Palestinian who broke into the family's home around 1 a.m.

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that the children killed were ages 11, 3 and a 3-month-old baby. The newspaper also said that another 12-year-old daughter and two of her younger brothers escaped.

The West Bank had been calm in the months since four Jewish settlers were killed in a drive-by shooting in August.