The dead: Yitzchak (47) and Tali (45) Aimes, mother and father of 6; Avishai Schindler (25); and Kochava Ibn Chaim (37), whose husband Mumi of the Zaka  volunteer force, came to the area to help clean up the scene of the murders. Hamas: “We claim responsibility.” Judea and Samaria Council : “The building freeze is over.”

They come to do the most gruesome job, both emotionally and physically, and they don’t even get paid a cent. The come to gather body parts, to collect tissue, to gather and pool blood, as Jewish law requires all body parts to be buried. It is a heartwrenching job for Zaka, no matter who the victim is. But this time it was much, much worse.

As the first reports of the terrorist attack came in, Mumi Ibn Chaim, a Zaka voluneer, tried to reach his wife Kochi by phone. When she didn’t answer, he became concerned because he knew that she was on her way home. And so it was that the worst came true. His friends on Zaka, who had already identified Kochi among the 4 slain, tried to prevent him from approaching the car so he wouldn’t see the gruesome scene of his dead wife. But Mumi insisted, approached the car, and said goodbye to her. He burst into tears and sat on the side of the road in shock.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi arrived at the scene of the attack along with head of Central Command Avi Mizrachi and received reports from officers of the area. Ashkenazi said that “This is a very serious attack. I send my condolences to the bereft family and to the town of Beit Chagai. We will not rest until we lay our hands on the terrorists as we have done in previous situations.

The officer in charge of the Judea and Samaria regions, General Nitzan Alon, surmised that “The attack was executed by several people, possibly from Hamas. I believe it is connected to current political events.”

The IDF noted that there weren’t any specific warnings of an attack beforehand, but there were estimations that terror attacks and disorderly conduct were possible leading up to the talks in Washington. The defense establishment has not discounted the possibility that Jewish civilians would also start rioting. In light of these assessments, the Chief of Staff visited the Judea and Samaria region and held an situational assessment with the area commanders. Forces in the field received the instructions to increase awareness and be more sensitive at checkpoints.

Defense minister Ehud Barak said last night that “this seems to be an attempt by lowly terrorists to hurt the chances of the talks in Washington.” Other sources interviewed this morning (Sept 1) on Army Radio estimated that killings go hand in hand with talks each time as Palestinian Authority policy in order to portray Abbas as a peacemaker. Abbas, of course, said the same thing he always says when a terror attack happens, in which he condemns terror attacks against Palestinian as well as Israeli civilians. About this attack, he was also quoted as saying, “This does not count as resistance.”

The military arm of Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack which it called “a heroic act”.