Two years have passed since the shocking, treacherous murder of thirteen-year-old dual Israeli and American citizen Hallel Ariel, as she lay sleeping in her bedroom in the Judean community of Kiryat Arba.

Although Israel is sadly all too familiar with killings and terror attacks, the horrendous murder caught the attention of the public due to the horrific circumstances, and the fact that Hallel Ariel was the youngest victim in the series stabbing attacks that rocked Israel in 2015–16.

Today marks the Hebrew date of the tragedy, and the local community has gathered together in her memory to take time to study Torah together and celebrate Hallel’s all-too-short life.

Hallel was a dancer, and had dreams of becoming a zoologist. But her life was snatched by a 17-year-old Arab terrorist. Coming from the nearby Palestinian village of Bani Na’im, a well-known “hornet’s nest” from which many terrorists have struck, the terrorist cruelly deprived Hallel of her dreams, and her parents of their daughter.

After stealing into the family home through a window, the terrorist crept into the children’s bedroom where Hallel slept along with her siblings, and frenziedly set upon her with a knife. Defenseless Hallel never stood a chance. Although her attacker was shot by security guards who rushed to the scene, by the time paramedics arrived, Hallel was no longer breathing. A short time later, she was pronounced dead in a Jerusalem hospital.

At a time when Arab social media was abuzz with posts encouraging and showing how to murder Jews, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu blamed “incitement-driven terrorists” and the U.S. State Department condemned the “outrageous terrorist attack”.

After the death, police discovered that the terrorist, Mohammad Tra’ayra, had earlier boasted on Facebook of his intent to die as a martyr, and follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Yousef Walid Tra’ayra, who rammed his car into an Israeli military vehicle on two months previously, injuring three Israeli soldiers. After the murder, the terrorist’s mother praised her son as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque and hoped others would follow in his path. As the family of a “martyr”, a terrorist murderer who was killed, his family receives thousands of dollars a year from the PA.

A memorial ceremony was held today at the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron at 3pm, after which the community was invited to the family’s home in nearby Kiryat Arba to learn about the ritual use of wine in the Jewish temple. Hallel’s father grows grapes in a nearby vineyard.

In memory of Hallel, her family commissioned a special pendant necklace produced by designer Maayan Ayash, from the Samarian community of Yitzhar. The pendant, shaped in the form of a gate, is known as “Hallel’s Gate” after her mother expressed the wish that one of the gates to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem be renamed after her daughter. Lev HaOlam has proudly distributed the necklaces in packages sent to our partners and supporters all around the world.

Mother’s Heart-Rending Letter

Halel’s mother Rina published the following commemorative letter on Facebook:

On this morning exactly 2 years ago, our Hallel was murdered.

Murdered at the hands of that wicked man.

Just 13 and a half years old. An innocent girl who wanted to live, to dance, and to dream. Since then, the pain has gotten deeper and the loss even more unbearable.

And from this depth I call on each and every individual. Look at your children. At your families. Hug them close. Love and be thankful for what you have. Even when it isn’t perfect. Even when it’s complicated. And then give yourselves a moment to think today. To ask what can be done for our incredible nation and our wonderful land in order to enhance life here. We will build up our nation’s strength, social strength, and spiritual strength.

Let us try to end today with the feeling that we have made progress on this front, even if it’s just one small thing – it will be in memory of Hallel Yaffa.
Much strength,
Rina Ariel