Menu JTA Search

Hungarian immigrant murdered after returning to yeshiva dorm

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has increased security in Jerusalem’s Old City after a yeshiva student was killed there. Gabriel Hirshberg, a 26-year-old student at the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in the Old City, was killed Wednesday night when at least one gunman fired an automatic weapon at him and a companion in an alley near the Damascus gate. His companion, Binyamin Dell, 18, was seriously wounded. The assailants fled. The yeshiva, which is partially funded by American millionaire Dr. Irving Moskowitz, has bought several homes from Arabs in eastern Jerusalem as part of its campaign to settle Jews there. As part of increased security in eastern Jerusalem, Netanyahu said police presence would be increased in the Old City. Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert accused Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat of doing nothing to prevent terrorist attacks on Israelis. “These are people who have automatic weapons, who are organized in cells, who have escape routes, who have logistical help to escape and hide,” he said. Police said the two students had finished their studies at the yeshiva and were walking back to their dormitories in the Old City shortly before midnight when the attack took place. Hirshberg, who immigrated from Hungary five years ago, died instantly. Dell was able to run to the home of National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon, located in the Muslim Quarter, and receive medical attention. Sharon was not home at the time. Police said the students had not waited for an armed escort to take them back to their dormitories. But officials at the yeshiva said security measures for the students and Jewish residents of the Old City were inadequate. Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz said, “We have not had a shooting attack within the walls in years. We view this as very grave.” In Budapest, Hirshberg’s relatives said his family had opposed his studying at the yeshiva. His 24-year-old brother, who also made aliyah, called his grandmother in Budapest with the tragic news. He was unable to tell his parents directly. “The two sons became religious against the will of their parents,” said the brothers’ uncle, Janos Hirshberg. “It was a big problem in the family and was an endless topic of discussion.” Gabriel Hirshberg, who joined the Orthodox B’nai Akiva group in 1989, was the first male to be circumcised as an adult in Budapest after the fall of communism, according to Rabbi Baruch Oberlander, the Chabad Lubavitch representative in Budapest. Hirshberg’s funeral was postponed until his parents arrived from Budapest. Israeli security officials were, meanwhile, quoted as saying that they were encountering difficulties with their Palestinian counterparts in investigating the attack. Palestinian security services were angered when two members of a Hamas terrorist cell were detained by Israeli security officials near the West Bank town of Nablus last week. The two had been apprehended by Israeli officials while they were being transported in a car driven by members of the Palestinian preventive security service. Though Palestinian officials said the two were being taken to a jail in Nablus, Israel has questioned whether they would have been freed somewhere within the self-rule areas. (JTA correspondent Agnes Bohm in Budapest contributed to this report.)

NEXT STORY