A disaster was averted on Monday when a mother of four managed to fend off a Palestinian attacker who had broken into her home after infiltrating Israel from the Gaza Strip. The attacker was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers after he fled the woman's house in the Gaza border community of Sde Avraham.
Yael Mitzafon, 39, was lightly wounded in the attack, which investigators initially believed to be nationalistically motivated but later said could have been criminally motivated. Mitzafon struggled with the attacker, possibly saving the lives of her children, who were asleep in the adjacent room.
"I'm very proud of my daughter," said her father Danni Mitzafon. "In my eyes she's a real hero. She managed, with a great deal of resourcefulness, to push the burglar into the shower, which is next to the bedroom, and then pushed the child's bed up against the door to prevent him from escaping. Without her quick thinking, it could have ended very badly."
The burglar entered the family's home through the back door around 3:50 a.m., armed with a knife and metal rod. Mitzafon and her four children were asleep. Her husband was away on business.
Danni Mitzafon said, "After [the attacker] woke Yael and she became scared he would harm her and the children, she fought him hard, managed to push him into the shower room, get the kids into the safety room and then continued to fight the intruder while throwing everything she could get her hands on at him."
According to the investigation, while the intruder was stuck in the bathroom, Mitzafon called a neighbor and her husband, who works in the defense establishment, and they called the community's emergency first response unit to the home, along with an Israel Defense Forces unit stationed in the area.
After realizing he was trapped, the attacker tried escaping through the bathroom window. During his escape attempt, Israeli soldiers arrived at the home and chased him on foot for about 1.5 kilometers (nearly a mile). They called on him to halt near the community's greenhouse area, but he refused to comply, and was shot and killed.
"This was a very grave security-related incident," said Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin. "Someone here screwed up. The defense establishment needs to do a serious in-house check and ask itself how someone from Gaza could possibly infiltrate into Israel, pass the security fence, the roadblocks, the army patrols, and manage to get into a family's home."
The head of the community's emergency response unit, Tzadok Admon-Edri, said that after Mitzafon called the security forces, the unit reached her home quickly and managed the incident as required.
"She was lightly wounded in her face," said Admon-Edri. "She was treated at the clinic and everything is fine. The children have calmed down after being treated by welfare specialists."