November 12, 2002 Update

Letters from Israel

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Dear family and friends,

"I'm only a kid of 34, and I have to say Kaddish for two children, my whole family," sobbed Avi Ohayon clutching his late little boy's pacifiers.

The camera moved from him to the brightly decorated children's bedroom in their little house in Kibbutz Metzer in northern Israel. It was here that Ohayon's two young sons, Matan aged 5 and No'am, aged 4, were gunned down at point blank range by a Palestinian terrorist late last night. Their mother, Revital, was shot as she leant over her children in a futile attempt to protect them from the gunman. The blue and yellow bedclothes were stained with blood and bullet holes pierced the wall.

I must have seen the clip at least four times yesterday on four different news broadcasts. Each time I watched reporters close to tears. No matter how much terror becomes a "routine" event in Israel, there is no getting used to little kids butchered in their beds, eyeball to eyeball with their murderer while he coldly and calmly shoots them, a bullet for each child.

The terrorist began his killing spree on the tranquil, leafy, paths of the kibbutz, murdering Tirtza Damari as she took a late night stroll with her boyfriend, then gunning down Yitzhak Dori, the kibbutz secretary as he tried to apprehend the gunman. The Ohayon home was next.

Outside the kibbutz gates, by now sealed off by security forces, Avi Ohayon waited for news of his family.

The night stretched on endlessly, the residents of Metzer cooped up in their homes, behind locked doors and closed shutters, the entire village blacked out to hamper the terrorist's movements. Meanwhile soldiers and police scoured the kibbutz for the shooter. It was only at about seven the next morning that the all clear was given and residents were finally allowed to leave their homes. To date the perpetrator has not been caught.

The scenario has become too familiar. Lately, terrorist infiltrations have become almost a weekly event, targeting rural Israeli communities close to Palestinian areas. The attack on Kibbutz Metzer this Sunday night was only the most recent. Last week a Palestinian farm worker in Gush Katif smuggled a gun to work and murdered 52-year-old Amos Sa'ada and 18-year-old Assaf Tzfirah, in the greenhouses. The week before, a terrorist broke through the perimeter fence of the Samarian village of Hermesh, where he killed two 14-year-old Israeli schoolgirls, Hadas Turjeman and Linoi Sarousi, and 53-year-old Orna Eshel.

As the attack in Metzer took place, EU-sponsored talks were underway in Cairo with the aim of persuading the Palestinian terror gangs to renounce the murder of Israelis in "pre-1967 Israel," with the understanding that Israelis in disputed areas are fair game. Today, Palestinian officials expressed criticism of the location of the Metzer attack, with Fatah, whose gunmen perpetrated it, claiming they thought Metzer was over the pre-1967 armistice line. Had little Matan and No'am lived in an Israeli community a few kilometres east, just across the pre-1967 armistice line, they would clearly be considered legitimate targets.

In the last 10 days Israeli security forces have thwarted over fifty attempted terror attacks, mostly suicide bombers and car bombs caught en route to their Israeli targets, including a fifteen-year-old would be bomber apprehended near Nablus/Shekhem wearing an explosive laden belt.

One prominent success was ironically near Kibbutz Metzer itself, the very morning before the infiltration, when police on patrol intercepted a car packed with explosives and carrying a terrorist with a bomb-belt. Relief that this attempted atrocity had been averted was unfortunately to be short lived. Several hours later another terrorist began his killing spree in the same kibbutz.


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Copyright 2002 by Leiah Elbaum.