Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A mother and her two young children were murdered in their beds and two other Israelis were killed in a terrorist infiltration attack overnight into a community in northern Israel.
The attack occurred less than a day before U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield was due in Israel to pursue what is being described as a "containment" policy.
Just before 11:30 on Sunday evening, at least one gunman crossed the perimeter fence of Kibbutz Metzer, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.
The terrorist entered the Ohayoun home and burst through the door to the children's room, where he killed Revital Ohayoun, 34, as she apparently attempted to protect her sons Matan, 5, and Noam, 4, with her own body. The boys were killed.
Before escaping, the terrorist also killed Yitzhak Dori, the kibbutz secretary, and Tirza Damari, 42, who was visiting from the nearby community of Eliyakin.
The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, linked to Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack at Kibbutz Metzer - a collective farming community of some 200 members. But Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat condemned it.
Arafat was quoted as saying that he would investigate whether the attack was meant to spoil talks between Fatah and Hamas over whether or not terror attacks would be carried out inside Israel or only in the disputed West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Government spokesman Avi Pazner charged that the PA has become a "full-fledged factory for terrorism" and said that Israel would use all of its capabilities and do whatever it needs to do to prevent such attacks from occurring.
"We have to understand we are confronted here with a concerted wave of terrorism," Pazner said in a telephone interview.
"There are 60 warnings of preparations of terrorism," Pazner said. "Obviously, it is a concerted effort by Palestinians to create as [many] terrorist incidents as possible."
An unnamed defense official was quoted on Israel radio as saying that the attack was very grave and that the Israeli army would respond soon. Newly appointed Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reportedly met with his security chiefs on Monday morning to formulate a plan for response.
This is the first terror attack inside Israel since Mofaz - the former army chief of staff - was sworn in as Defense Minister last week. As chief of staff Mofaz had favored expelling Arafat but was prevented from doing so by the political eschelon.
Meanwhile Satterfield arrives on Monday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders about what has been described as a policy of "containment."
Washington doesn't want the situation to escalate right now, when it is preparing for an expected attack against Iraq.
The agenda for the Satterfield talks includes encouraging Israel to continue with the transfer of more than 2 billion shekels ($425 million) in frozen Palestinian tax revenues and the easing of restrictions on Palestinians.
Although Satterfield is expected to mention Washington's so-called 'road map' to peace, it will not be the focus of discussions, an Israeli official said.
The U.S. knows that since the last visit of U.S. envoy William Burns, who delivered the road map to the Palestinians and discussed it with Israel last month, the Israeli government has decided to go to early elections, the official said.
Nothing much will happen until after the primaries at the end of November, but despite this Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has promised to give continue with it, he said.
On Monday, Israeli national elections were set for January 28.