Noya Dahan, 9, is one of the congregants wounded during the shooting at the Chabad of Poway in California on April 27. Noya received injuries from shrapnel that hit her face and leg. The little girl was transported to a children’s hospital where she’s reported in stable condition.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein and Almog Peretz also suffered injuries during the assault. Chabad congregant Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed in the attack as she attempted to shield the rabbi. The tragedy has resulted in increased security at houses of worship across the United States.
John Earnest, 19, was captured by police shortly after the incident and has claimed responsibility. A nursing student at California State University-San Marcos, Earnest had previously written a manifesto detailing his anti-semitic views, saying that his heroes include Adolph Hitler, Jesus, and Brendan Tarrant, the Australian terrorist who killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques on March 15, 2019. Earnest has also claimed responsibility for damaging a mosque located in nearby Escondido, California.
Here’s what you need to know about Noya Dahan.
1. Noya Was at the Chabad Attending Passover Services With her Family
Noya, her two sisters and their uncle, Almog Dahan, were attending services at the Chabad of Poway to celebrate the final day of Passover. Chabad is a branch of Orthodox Judaism and Passover is one of the holiest holidays of the Jewish religion.
The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that at approximately 11:20, witnesses say Earnest entered the sanctuary dressed in a military vest and wearing glasses and was armed with an AR-15 assault rifle. Within seconds there were screams of “Hide yourselves! Shooting! Shooting! Shooting!”
The attack occurred six months to the day from the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooting in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania. Robert Bowers, 46, was arrested for the hate crime, which killed 11 people and injured seven. Like Earnest, Bowers expressed anti-Semitic views. He also blamed Jews and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society with assisting Central American immigrant caravans that were attempting to seek asylum in the United States.
John Earnest,19, was captured by police shortly after the incident and has claimed responsibility. A nursing student at California State University, San Marcos, Earnest had previously written a manifesto detailing his anti-semitic views, saying that his heroes include Adolph Hitler, Jesus and Brendan Tarrant, the Australian terrorist who killed 50 people at two New Zealand mosques on March 15, 2019.
2. Noya Was Rescued by her Uncle, Almog Peretz
Noya was rescued by her 34-year-old uncle Almog Peretz, who had traveled from Israel and was visiting her family for the Passover holiday. Peretz rescued several children in addition to Dahan. “I took a little girl who was our neighbor and three nieces. As I picked up the girl, the terrorist aimed his weapon at me. I was injured in the leg.”
Peretz told the Times of Israel that protecting the children was a skill he developed while living in Sderot, Israel, where he frequently had to rush with others to bomb shelters whenever rockets were being fired on the city by terrorists from the nearby Gaza Strip.
“This is sad, but I am originally from Sderot so we know a bit about running from the Kassam rockets,” Peretz shared with Israel’s Channel 12 from his hospital bed.
Peretz recalls how he opened the Chabad’s back door, then ran with all of the children to an adjacent building. Peretz then went back into the Chabad to try and rescue another girl who was in the bathroom. “Fortunately she stayed there and the terrorist had already left,” he said.
3. Noya Suffered Wounds to her Face and Leg
Noya was admitted to the hospital with shrapnel wounds to the face and leg. “We’re shocked, it’s a little bit scary. We’re all over the place,” Noya’s father Israel Dahan shared with CNN on Sunday morning.
The little girl was transported to a children’s hospital and is listed in stable condition. She has asked that her photo be shared so that others know “she is strong.”
Sheriff William Gore stated that the weapon used in the attack was an AR-15. In September 2018, Scientific American published findings from a study that determined that shooters using semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 doubles the chances of injury and deaths. The study lists domestic terrorist events where AR-15s were used including the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Newton, Connecticut and Orlando, Florida. The study was conducted using data obtained from the FBI.
4. Noya’s Family Had Previously Experienced Anti-Semitism in the San Diego Suburb of Mira Mesa
— JP News (@jpnews_ny) April 12, 2015
According to Noya’s father, the family had a previous incident of anti-Semitism in the United States. Israel Dahan recalls that in April 2015, right after moving to the United States, vandals tagged the Dahan home in the San Diego suburb of Mira Mesa with swastikas. The incident occurred during Passover when the electricity in their home suddenly went out. As Dahan went to check on the circuit breaker he realized that in the few moments their home had been dark, someone had spray painted red swastikas on the garage door and the hood of his truck.
The family’s security video showed Dahan and his brother-in-law looking at the damage. San Diego police arrived 45 minutes later.
“In Jewish history, [swastikas] mean someone wants to kill us,” Dahan told San Diego’s Fox 5 News. After the incident, Dahan did not immediately go back to work because his wife feared being left alone. Immediately after, the family of five all slept together in the master bedroom with the door locked.
A similar hate crime occurred in Mira Mesa in 2016. Katie Sciurba and husband Jerry Rafiki Jenkins, the only interracial couple in their neighborhood, discovered swastikas carved into fresh concrete outside of their home, which was being renovated. “We’ve been here six years and never had any issues. It’s a very diverse community,” Sciurba said. “There’s obviously a lot of anger, Jenkins said. In addition to swastikas the initials S.W.P., possibly standing for “Supreme White Power,” were also discovered carved on their property.
5. Noya’s Family Came to the U.S. to Escape Regular Rocket Attacks in
ISRAEL - GAZA TENSION:— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) August 9, 2018
- Over 150 rockets fired from Gaza
- 2 Rockets strike Sderot homes
- 1 injured
- 25 Rockets intercepted
- Long range missiles being used
- Thousands of Israeli families sleeping in shelters
- IAF bombs over 100 Gaza targets
- At least 3 dead
- 20 injured pic.twitter.com/rTinCmUtG9
Israel Dahan said he moved his family to the United States in December 2014 to escape the rocket attacks in their hometown of Sderot, Israel. “We decided to move to the U.S. in order to be more safe and to protect our kids … We’re just trying to grow our kids in [a] quiet neighborhood in a quiet place, which has not happened,” Dahan told San Diego Fox 5.
Sderot has a population of approximately 22,000 residents and is located less than one mile from Gaza. The community regularly comes under fire, typically from Hamas. Residents must constantly seek shelter from rockets and homemade projectiles that have injured and killed residents and damaged homes and property. The Jewish Virtual Library says that citizens “live their lives in bomb shelters and students are often forced to go to school underground,”
Between 2001-2009 rocket attacks on Sderot became so frequent that the government instituted a “Code Red” alert system that gave residents 7-12 seconds to find safety in a bomb shelter. Haaretz reported on a study which determined that approximately 75-94% of Sderot children ages 4-18 suffered from PTSD resulting from the constant attacks and sirens.
“It can happen anywhere. We are strong,” Israel Dahan told the Times of Israel. “We came from fire to fire,” he said after his daughter was injured. But now his family is not so sure the United States is safe, either. CNN reports that his other
children have asked him, “Why we are staying here?”