Some terrorist attacks are so savage and inhuman that they defy description. The massacre that claimed the lives of Yosef Salomon, 70, his daughter Haya, 46, and his son Elad, 36 inside Yosef’s home on Friday night in Halamish is so shocking and heartbreaking that there are no words to truly express the horror.
The family had gathered over Shabbat dinner to celebrate the birth of a new grandson together with members of the community. Elad and his wife Michal came to stay in Halamish along with their five small children, as did Haya. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Haya opened it, expecting visitors for the celebration. Instead, it was a terrorist with a knife, and he started stabbing everyone he could reach, starting with Haya.
The terrorist murdered three members of the family and seriously wounded Yosef’s wife Tovah. An even greater tragedy was averted by the heroism of Elad’s wife, Michal, who succeeded in pulling the children into a separate room. A neighbor who serves in an elite IDF unity heard the cries for help and ran to the rescue, shooting the terrorist through a window from outside.
The terrorist had scaled the wall of the town, setting off an alarm. He quickly spotted activity around the Salomon home. Within 15 minutes, he turned the festive home into a bloodbath. Pictures from the attack showed the entire living room floor covered in blood. Large blood stains were found on a sofa as well.
“I Had to Protect the Children, No Matter What”
If the definition of heroism is grace under pressure, there may be no one as heroic as Michal Salomon. As the terrorist entered the home and attached anyone he could reach, Michal remained focused on the safety of her children. She quietly and carefully maneuvered all of the children away from the violence and held fast to the doorknob to prevent the terrorist from coming in, if he had tried.
“It was important that I, first of all, protect the children no matter what. I immediately understood that something wasn’t right. That something bad was happening,” Michal said. “I immediately took the 3 kids upstairs, where the two youngest children were sleeping.
“I started to hear shouts and screams. I held the door with all of my strength, because it wasn’t locked. I lost my sense of time, but I didn’t let go of the doorknob.”
At the funeral, Michal said she was able to save the children because of the bravery of her husband, who fought with the terrorist long enough for her to spirit away the children.
“On Friday night we signed an unwritten agreement. You saw me run upstairs with the children to protect them and you fought with the terrorist so he wouldn’t harm us,” she said. “I stood by my part of the bargain and so did you and you paid with your life.”
Just as Michal was protecting her children, another hero appeared to confront the terrorist directly. An off-duty soldier heard the calls for help and responded without hesitation.
“I understood immediately what was happening. I saw the terrorist and shot him through the window,” he said. “I didn’t think a lot. I acted immediately.”
By then, three people were dead and Tovah Salomon, 68, had been badly injured. She was rushed into surgery after the attack. Doctors succeeded in stabilizing her condition. When she regained consciousness, she was informed that her husband and two of her children had been murdered.
“She lost her whole world,” said a family member at the hospital. “She said the physical pain was far less difficult than the emotional pain and the grief.”
Eulogizing the Family
Thousands of people attended the funeral of the three members of the Salomon family. The show of support reflected the deep shock felt by Israeli society at the barbarism of the murders.
Neighbors said Yosef was a “grandfather-like” figure for the community. He led prayer services in the local synagogue and volunteered with the security patrols in the neighborhood. He is survived three remaining children, two daughters and son.
One of the surviving daughters, Orit, spoke about the void that’s left in their lives after the murders. “Dad, you were always a man who gave everything and made us all happy and made us feel like everything was OK but now, nothing is OK,” she said. “Now you can rest, we will look after Mom.”
Rabbi Yonatan Glass, the rabbi of Halamish, told mourners about hard Yosef worked for the benefit of other people. “Only someone with no remnant of humanity could raise their hand against Yossi and his family,” he said.
“Yossi made everyone he came across happy. The Salomon family household was based on making other people happy.”
Michal, Elad’s wife, spoke about her close bond with Haya, her sister-in-law, and promised to look after their mother in Haya’s place. Haya was a beloved second grade teacher at the Noam HaMeiri in Lod.
Elad lived in the city of Elad and worked as a computer technician. He is survived by his wife and five children. A friend of his described him as a devoted father who took time off from work when his twins were born a year ago.
Referring to Elad, she spoke about feeling frightened by his absence. “You were a perfect husband, we couldn’t have asked for any more. You were excited by our kids. You cared about them. You played with them like a kid yourself,” she said. “Now you are not here for me and it scares me.”
Opening their Home to the Whole Neighborhood
“Yosef and Tovah were so excited about their new grandchild and had invited the whole community over to celebrate that night,” one of their neighbors said. “We were planning on heading over there a few minutes later when we heard the screams,” she added.
After the funeral, Tovah recounted the ordeal, saying the door to the home was open because they were expecting guests.
“Haya opened the door and he stabbed her. She ran out of the house screaming, to alert the neighbors to help. Even then, I didn’t understand that the stabber was a terrorist. I walked towards the door and the terrorist turned around and looked at me, with a wide smile. He was wearing a white shirt and dark pants, and I thought he was a neighbor who had come to celebrate with us, and that I just didn’t recognize him.
“I asked him, ‘Who are you?’ He laughed in my face and waved the knife.
“At that point I understood what was happening. I bent down and turned my back to him, so that even if he stabbed me, it would be on my back and not my neck. I ran upstairs towards where the bedrooms are, and sat down on the couch.
“I saw him run towards my husband Yossi, but I didn’t see exactly what happened. I just saw that Yossi fell and the terrorist ran to Elad, and Elad fought with him for several long minutes.
“It wasn’t a fair fight. The terrorist was standing opposite him, holding a knife, but Elad blocked him for several crucial minutes in order to save his family. At that moment, I didn’t understand where Haya was. I hoped she had made it, and I thought maybe she was hiding in the bathroom or shower room. We looked all over the house for her, until we realized she had gone outside to call for help, and wasn’t with us anymore. Her courage to call for help, and Elad’s courage [fighting with the terrorist] is what saved Elad’s wife and their five children.”
“That’s the only comfort in this awful pain.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to the family for support. “The members of the government and I share in the terrible grief of the Solomon family,” he said. “Yosef, Haya and Elad were murdered by a beast incited by Jew-hatred.”
A Message from the Family
From Dov Lando on behalf of the Lando family in America (Susan Lando, Betty & Zvi Lando, Debra & Dov Lando, Tali & Alex Aronoff, and Laurie & JJ Lando):
By now you have heard of the horrific attack this past Friday night in Israel, where a terrorist senselessly killed Yosef Salomon and two of his adult children Chaya and Elad, while they were at home celebrating the birth of a new grandchild. Miraculously, Elad’s wife Michal had the presence of mind to get her children out of harm’s way, and to call for help. Sadly, it required Elad to sacrifice his life by confronting the attacker in order to buy time for his wife and children to reach safety. On behalf of the Lando family, and with deepest sorrow, we wanted to share that Michal is our first cousin; daughter of Danny Lando (the younger brother of our father, David Lando A”H).
Michal’s ability to stay level-headed, and to focus on her children in this horrible moment of crisis comes as no surprise to those that know her. She is a uniquely kind and generous person, and a fiercely devoted mother. She and Elad were raising five beautiful children, including twin babies, when this inexplicable act of violence tore her family apart.
Michal is one of those special people who wears a perpetual smile, is filled with warmth and empathy for others, and never seems flustered as she cares for her young children. Elad was a devoted husband and father, whose gentle demeanor makes it all the more incomprehensible that anyone would take his life in such an act of mindless violence.
We are grateful to the IDF soldier whose quick action to shoot the terrorist prevented further loss of life. We take solace in the response of the global Jewish community, and of so many other people of good faith, who have expressed their sympathy for our cousin and her children. Michal’s perpetual optimism has always served as an inspiration, and even when her mother (our aunt Ziva, a health conscious non-smoker) passed away this past year from lung cancer, Michal seemed to always stay strong and positive.
It was incredible to watch her give an interview this week about the event, and show her strength of character as she now faces life alone without her beloved Elad. To quote Michal, we hope only that there will never again be such a tragedy,
From Tali Lando:
As all of you know, this past Friday night an evil terrorist murdered a husband, his father and sister and stabbed his mother leaving her badly wounded. Miraculously, his wife, who was on the other side of the room quickly gathered her three young children and ran to safety upstairs where her twin babies were sleeping. She barricaded the door behind her, protecting her children at all costs and called for help.
Living in America, when we hear of these atrocities in Israel, we feel saddened and angered, but we can’t help also feeling somewhat disconnected. Often these murders occur in settlements we have never heard of and we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that our loved ones in Israel are in “the safer cities or areas.” This Saturday when I turned my phone on after Shabbat, I was met with a different reality. Several text messages popped up alerting me that my wonderful first cousin and daughter of my father’s youngest brother, Michal Solomon, was the fast-thinking wife who had saved her children while listening to her beloved husband Elad’s dying screams.
The pictures splashed throughout the internet were the bright faces of Michal and Elad Solomon, just as I have always seen them together, always infectiously smiling. The story of her quick wit and protective motherly instincts gives me chills. She saw the killer disguised in a white button down short and blue pants and understood immediately that evil had entered their home. She and Elad made a silent promise. He would hold off the terrorist while she would save their children. She gathered the children quietly and then slipped right behind their father’s murder and upstairs to call for help.
I have known Michal since we were young kids. At age twelve, I spent the summer in Israel and I stayed in her house for two weeks. Despite being only nine, Michal willingly gave up her room whenever I was in Rechovot. This continued for every Shabbos I spent there which was a frequent occurrence during the year I lived in Israel. Whenever I or any of my family visit Israel, Michal and Elad gladly meet us anywhere that is most convenient for us. She never seems burdened that she had several young children in tow.
Three years ago, when my father developed a malignant brain tumor, Michal made it her business to Skpe with him every week just to chat and check in. My father always mentioned her calls and I knew it was because her perseverance and consistency was so valuable to him. She was completely abreast of his medical condition at all times. Since my father died, Michal has continued to make my mother feel loved and cared for whenever she visits Israel. When I myself developed cancer, Michal began these same phone calls to me. No matter how many times I didn’t answer the phone, she never stopped calling. Her own mother, my beloved Aunt Ziva, (a health conscious non-smoker) passed away this year in her early sixties from non-small cell lung cancer.
Throughout her mother’s illness, Michal, Elad and their children were a constant presence in the home, cooking, laughing and offering emotional support. When Ziva died, Michal, in conjunction with her sisters and brother, continued to shop for and provide daily meals for my uncle, constantly stocking his refrigerator. They never allowed him to be alone for a single Shabbat meal. None of this surprised me. Just as in all the pictures, Michal was always smiling and despite juggling twin babies and 3 young children, I have never seen her frazzled. I can only imagine that Elad was the reason for that.