The body of a woman in her 50’s, who had been reported missing the previous day, was found Monday morning bearing evidence of a violent death in the the Reihan Forest in the northern West Bank.
The news sent shockwaves throughout Israel. At press time there was no claim of responsibility from any terrorist group, but the Israel Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) were reportedly proceeding on the suspicion of a possible nationalistic motive for the murder.
"The late Esther Horgan was brutally murdered when she went out for a run near her home," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "The security forces will apprehend the murderer as quickly as possible and we will settle accounts with him. I would like to send deep condolences to the family."
Esther Horgan, 52, was a resident of Tel Menashe, a small community built near the edge of the forest. She leaves behind a husband, Benyamin, and six children.
Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan issued a statement of deep sympathy for Horgan’s family and blamed Palestinians for her murder.
“I want to say clearly to these barbarians from the Palestinian Authority in front of the whole world: You will never break us, and the settlement in Samaria will flourish and grow and build together with the whole of the State of Israel, because you in the barbaric Palestinian Authority choose death and we choose life," he said.
President Reuven Rivlin said this was "a hard, heart-breaking morning with news of the cruel murder of Esther Horgan, who left her house yesterday and did not return."
"A full life of wonderful works – of home and family, of creativity and care – has been cut short by a beast in human guise," he continued. "I have full faith that our security forces will get to the despicable murders and that justice will be done. I embrace Esther's family, her children and their father. We are with you in this time of such deep grief."
Defense Minister Benny Gantz sent his "deepest sympathies to the Horgan family on the horrific murder of Esther, of blessed memory."
"Israel’s security forces are working to find the despicable murderer and take him promptly into custody," he said. "We will never accept a reality in which human life becomes dispensable."
If police determine that this incident was in fact a terrorist attack, Horgan would be the first Israeli victim of terrorism since Rabbi Shai Ohayon, a father of four, was killed in a stabbing attack in suburban Tel Aviv by a Palestinian assailant in August.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.