‘I Told Myself: Breathe’: Survivor Of Barkan Terror Hid From Gunman Under Desk


An Israeli woman who was shot and wounded in a deadly terror attack in the Barkan Industrial Park in the northern West Bank on Sunday morning said that she had survived by hiding, injured, under a desk, when the gunman reentered her office after killing two of her coworkers.

“I came to work in the morning as usual, I said good morning to everybody,” Sara Vaturi, 54, told reporters Monday from her hospital bed after her condition improved significantly.

She said she had understood something was wrong and stepped outside her office thinking someone was feeling sick.

But she ended up standing in front of 23-year-old Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, after he had handcuffed and killed Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 28, and before he shot dead 35-year-old Ziv Hajbi. All three were her colleagues at the Alon Group factory.

“He shot me,” Vaturi, who was wounded in the stomach, recounted. “I escaped into my office, went under the desk, put a hand on my wound, realized I was bleeding and all I could think was to breathe and everything will be okay. And then I heard four or five more loud gunshots.

“I curled up under the desk, he came back to my office, I saw his legs, the jeans and sneakers. After a second or two he was gone and there was silence,” Vaturi added.

After a few minutes, she said, two stock-keepers — Basel, a Palestinian, and Yogev, a Jew — arrived and tended to her until paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital.

“They were angels,” she said. “Fortunately, they told me that I sustained no internal damage. The bullet entered and exited without harming internal organs, and today I’m going home.”

Vaturi said she had never been worried about working with Palestinians in the past.

“I’d worked with Arabs for many years in a previous factory; I’m not afraid,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is not the first incident and not the last. Other than crying over the friends who are no longer with us, I don’t feel like a hero. I was lucky.

“I thought to myself that if he would have found me then that would have been it,” she added. “I would no longer be here. Luckily he was in a daze. He didn’t even look under the desk.”

She recalled her two co-workers who were killed in the attack.

“Kim, a young mother, would come every morning to the factory with a smile and show me pictures of her son and tell me how much she loved him. Every day it was, ‘Look, new shoes,’ or ‘Here he is in the playground,’ or ‘Here he is in daycare.’ She was simply a wonderful young woman,” she said.

“Ziv was a father of three children who I met during summer vacation when he brought them here. A wonderful young man,” she said. “He was our accountant. It is so painful.”

Vaturi told reporters she was looking forward to returning to work.

“Of course I’ll come back to work as usual. I don’t think that everyone is bad or everyone wants to harm us. This is the situation in our country,” she said. “Will the coexistence that we had here withstand this? I think that there will be two or three weeks of asking questions, then everything will return to normal. We will all work together and everything will be fine. That is my wish. I hope that it will come true. I’m not worried.”

Na’alowa carried out the shooting in the industrial park, near the settlement-city of Ariel, with a locally produced Carlo-style submachine gun, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

He handcuffed Levengrond Yehezkel and fatally shot her from close range. He then shot Vaturi in the stomach, moderately wounding her. The terrorist then shot and killed Ziv Hajbi, 35.

Levengrond Yehezkel was secretary to the CEO, while Hajbi worked in accounting. Na’alowa was employed at Alon Group as an electrician.

Na’alowa, from the village of Shuweika near Tulkarem, fled the scene, prompting a large-scale search of the area and a deployment of additional troops to the West Bank to prevent copycat attacks, the army said. Security forces detained Na’alowa’s brother and sister on Monday morning.

Levengrond Yehezkel was buried in her hometown of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel on Sunday night. She is survived by her husband and a 15-month-old son.

The funeral for Hajbi took place on Monday afternoon in the southern community of Nir Yisrael.

The businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park, located near Ariel, employ some 8,000 people, approximately half of them Israelis and the other half Palestinians.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.