Michael, Moti, and Tamir: Victims of Palestinian Terror Attack Identified as Fathers of 11 Kids
The third man murdered by a Palestinian assailant in a stabbing and car ramming attack in the West Bank on Tuesday morning has been named as Moti (Mordecai) Ashkenazi, a 59-year-old father of three from the central Israeli city of Yavne.
Two other Israeli men killed in the rampage in Ariel were identified earlier in the day — Tamir Avichai, 50, a father of six children who resided in Kiryat Netafim in the West Bank; and Michael Ledigin, 36, a father of two who made aliyah to Israel five years ago and lived in Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.
The killer — identified as Muhammed Souf, 18, from the Palestinian town of Hares in the northern West Bank— also injured several others before being shot dead by Israeli troops who arrived on the scene. Two of the wounded are hospitalized in serious but stable condition, and a third in moderate condition.
One of the soldiers who responded to the attack was on his way to a memorial service for Shalom Sofer, a 63-year-old Israeli man who died last week of wounds sustained in an earlier Palestinian stabbing attack, when he saw “an unusual incident on the road.”
“When I understood that it’s a terror attack, I exited the vehicle, identified the terrorist, and shot at him until he was completely neutralized,” the soldier said in comments released by the military.
Speaking to local press following their father’s death, two of Avichai’s daughters recounted waking up earlier in the day to news of yet another terrorist attack. “We were hurt, but we said, ‘okay, it happens’ — until it suddenly comes to your life and you find out it’s your dad,” said one daughter, denouncing the regularity of terrorist attacks as “a delusional reality.”
“My father was a man filled with a joy for life, and now a little of that joy is missing in the world,” she added.
A second daughter thanked the soldier who neutralized the assailant who killed her father “for stopping the next murder.”
Their only brother, 10, said the kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, for his father at a funeral later in the day, local media reported. Another daughter wailed for Avichai to wake up, calling him her “best friend.”
Ashkenazi, who was also a husband and grandfather of two, was described by his family as “a loving person filled with a joy for life, an exemplary husband and a family man with a huge soul who always loved to help everyone.”
“He loved life and took advantage of every moment to wrap his family in warmth and love,” they added in a statement published by local media. “This is a great loss for us all and for everyone who knew him.”
Ashkenazi’s widow Yonit was already a member of a bereaved family before Tuesday’s attack, having lost her brother David Shamir in a terrorist stabbing in 1979. “We didn’t recover from this,” Yonit’s sister told Hebrew media, “and now it happened again. Again terrorists, again haters of Israel, it’s not to be believed.”
Ledigin’s widow, Yevgenia, spoke with difficulty of her partner as a very “kind hearted person” who would always engage, play with, and cook for his children, local media reported. “I don’t understand how I will live without my husband.”
His family members in Russia were notified of his death, and his parents are expected to land in Israel on Wednesday for the funeral.