Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the murder of an Israeli couple by Palestinian terrorists, saying the attack was a direct result of the Palestinian Authority's relentless incitement against Israel.
Eitam and Naama Henkin, from the Samaria community of Neria, were gunned down while traveling with their four young children on a road between the Samaria communities of Elon Moreh and Itamar, east of Nablus.
Netanyahu, who is currently in New York, was briefed on the incident shortly after it took place.
"This is a difficult day for Israel. This was a shocking, brutal murder of two parents, who left four orphans behind. Our hearts go out to the children and their family. These murderers knew they were killing a mother and a father. This proves, yet again, that the Palestinians' wild incitement breeds terrorism and murder," he said.
After a briefing with defense officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and Shin Bet security agency Director Yoram Cohen, Netanyahu said "steps will be taken to ensure these murderers are apprehended, as well as increase the sense of security on the ground."
Netanyahu lambasted the Palestinian Authority for not denouncing the attack. "There has been no condemnation from the Palestinian Authority. After the rare attack on an Arab family in Duma, my government and I immediately denounced the act in the strongest possible terms. We did everything in our power to help the family. All the Palestinians are offering is roaring silence. They incite violence and this is the result," he said.
The prime minister added that if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "continues with his incitement and refrains from resuming negotiations," he will lose his position as a partner in the peace process. Nevertheless, Netanyahu stressed that he would prefer pursuing ways to reignite the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority rather than declaring Abbas is no longer a negotiating partner.
A statement by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "This murderous attack is the clear result of the Palestinians' incitement against the State of Israel and the Israeli public.
"The war on terror demands we demonstrate determination, patience and an iron fist. We are fighting a ruthless, bloodthirsty enemy, and unfortunately, lives are lost along the way. The IDF and the Shin Bet are conducting a manhunt for these killers, and we will not rest until they, and those who sent them, are apprehended. I offer my condolences to the family," Ya'alon said.
President Reuven Rivlin expressed his horror over Thursday's attack: "Heinous murderers claimed the lives of two parents tonight, leaving their small children orphaned. The depth of this act's hatred and cruelty is devastating. We will continue to relentlessly fight this ruthless terrorism, and it is our enemies who should beware. It is our duty. It is the only way we can ensure our children and grandchildren's safety, and our right to live in peace, anywhere in Israel. The children are in our thoughts and prayers," he said.
"The U.S. strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place late Thursday evening in the West Bank. We extend our condolences to the victims' family. We urge all sides to maintain calm, avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragedy, and work together to bring the perpetrators to justice," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
U.N. Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the violence and called for calm. "In order to avoid escalation all must refrain from inflammatory statements and retaliatory action that can only further exacerbate an already tense environment," he said in a statement issued Thursday night.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) slammed the "Palestinian incitement mechanism, which drives these murderous terrorist attacks across Judea and Samaria. These kinds of events only prove that the Palestinians are not interested in dialogue and peace, only in hatred. I'm sure our security forces will apprehend the killers."
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid denounced the attack, saying, "These heinous terrorists should know that they are not immune and that they will be made to pay the price for their actions. Israel's war on terror must remain unwavering. We must spare no effort to ensure the Israeli public's safety and security."
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) noted that "24 hours after the speech given by the arch-terrorist Abu Mazen [Abbas] before the U.N. a husband and wife were murdered. This is painful proof that Israel must intensify its war on terror."
Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett said, "Abu Mazen's call to arms was heeded tonight in the bloodiest of ways. A people whose leaders encourage bloodshed will never have a country."
Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) said the best way to counter Palestinian terrorism would be to bolster the settlement enterprise across Judea and Samaria. Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) echoed the demand.
"The murder Samaria is despicable and painful. The IDF and security forces should act swiftly and with determination to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice," Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) said.
Zionist Union MK Zoher Behalul said, "My heart broke when I heard about this terrible terrorist attack. An entire family was torn to shreds. There has to be another way. ... How much longer will innocent people, on both sides, have to pay for the diplomatic stalemate? Revenge is not the answer, only negotiations, hard as they may be, can breed hope."