web analytics
July 23, 2014 / 25 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Itamar, a Year Later – “We Will Prevail”

The Fogel Family home.

The Fogel Family home.
Photo Credit: Boaz Motes

A little over a year ago, five members of the Fogel family from Itamar were murdered in their sleep by two Palestinian terrorists. The terrorists entered the Fogel home on Shabbat eve, March 11 2011, and slaughtered the father Ehud, the mother Ruth, and three of their children, Yoav 11, Elad, 4, and baby Hadas, only three months old. Three siblings survived. Twenty-five thousand people attended the mass funeral. The terrorists, aged 18 and 19 were arrested a month later, and recently received life sentences.  This incident is one of the most horrifying in recent memory.

Leah Zak, 36, mother of five and resident of Itamar for the past seven years, remembers that night vividly. She remembers that her family slept until about two in the morning. Initial reports came through the emergency message system, but they did not hear them. They awoke to hear loud banging on their front door. The RRT (Rapid Response Team), a civilian counter terror unit, was at the door. “They asked us if everything was all right. They told us that there was an infiltration into Itamar, and that we should close all windows and lock the doors. We didn’t know exactly what happened, but the situation seemed grave,” Leah recounts. One of her sons was woken up by the knocking on the door and was very frightened. “We went back to bed. We were told to turn all the lights out, so it was completely dark. I couldn’t read out of a book, so I prayed from memory. At some point we fell asleep. The RRT came back again at four. At that point we were completely awake. We received a message through the emergency message system that sessions would be held later on for everyone. We understood that something terrible had happened.”

Leah’s husband went to Shul, and there, she says, he learned of what had happened. “There was much confusion and the details were unclear, but we knew that the parents and some of the children had been slain. I was totally shocked, and began to cry. I tried to find out who of the children had been murdered. I found out, and we told the children each separately about what happened, not wanting them to hear in a different fashion. One of my sons was a classmate of one of the children murdered; another, a classmate of one of the surviving children. They cried, and later went to the meetings held for the children, on that Shabbat day.”

In the following hours and during the next days the Zaks and the residents of Itamar felt a great surge of support. Many from around the country offered their help. Many Rabbis and leaders came to show their support, offering words of encouragement. Leah elaborates: “Following this devastating event, and taking into consideration the community’s history, many of the adults wondered if the community was being punished, why they have been inflected with so many terrorist attacks and casualties. The Rabbis explained that one could not explain these incidents on a personal level, that the greater scheme of things was to be considered. Many volunteered to come and watch the children, encouraging us to attend the funeral.”

As the weeks passed, Leah’s children continued to exhibit signs of sadness and grief. They spoke a lot about the attack, occupying themselves with the details. They told stories about their lost friends. “One of my sons, the one who was woken up by the knocking on our door during the night of the attack exhibited real signs of fear and stress. During the first week he refused to leave home, was constantly demanding that we shut all the windows and doors. For the first few weeks he refused to sleep in his room or fall asleep alone. He went to group meetings meant to help deal with these fears. As for myself, every time I would close my eyes to fall asleep I would see Ruthie before my eyes. This difficult situation in the family lasted for about a month.”

“My oldest was in the same class as Yoav. The class received psychological counseling. My second oldest was in the same class as one of the children who survived, Roi. He subsequently left Itamar and moved in with his grandparents. My son grieved for the loss. Roi was very friendly, a good kid and my son was sorry to lose him. There was a farewell party arranged for him, but Roi was scared to come to Itamar, so his entire class traveled to Jerusalem to hold the party there for him.” Over time there were a few occasions that he came to Itamar. Every time he came there was great excitement.

Months after the tragedy, people continued come to Itamar to express their support. This created an amazing positive feeling. “Many people who I have not spoken to for a long time contacted me. Rabbis came to show their support, strengthen the spirits of the residents, constantly stressing that this incident was part of a bigger picture in Jewish history, that it was not a punishment for any individual person or act. Many visitors from abroad came as well. Many large events were held, and all these visits and events served as a great source of strength and comfort.”

For the most part, the attack jolted the town into activity. Many invested themselves in social projects. The general trend was a desire to continue to build and become stronger. Many of the supporters from outside offered various initiatives. There was an overall positive attitude. But Leah did not completely relate to this sentiment: “I felt a bit frustrated, it seemed odd to me that everything was progressing as usual, that the State did not avenge this attack.”

A bit more then a year after the attack, Leah still has mixed feelings. At the beginning she had a hard time just believing what happened. At times she imagined that she saw Ruthie. “A year later, am I different? More vulnerable? Definitely not! The opposite is the truth. In a sense, the whole story has helped me grow. I have become more stronger, a stronger believer, a more joyful person. I constantly try to think what I can learn from Ruthie, how I can implement her teachings in my life. It’s a choice I have to make – to elevate myself, or to fall and crash. I didn’t want to crash, so I progressed with it, with a lingering sense that I lacked a choice”.

After the Shloshim, the thirty day mourning period, foundations were laid for a Beit Midrash, a study hall in Itamar, which was named Mishkan Ehud after the father. The study hall was inaugurated on February 29, a year after the attack. Class rooms were also built in memory of Ruth and the children. During the inauguration event a new Sefer Torah was entered into the Hall’s Holy Ark, constructed of rocks and soil taken from the Fogel family garden.

Leah participated in the inauguration. The weather was stormy, but the event was well-attended by people from across Israel. The room was so packed it was impossible to get in or out. The structure wasn’t complete – funds are still being collected to complete this endeavor – but it all recognized the importance of holding the event on the anniversary of their death.

“The event itself was very impressive, very joyful,” Leah remembers, “I was very much moved, chills running through my body. The event was very joyful, but very sad as well. It was very joyful because we had finally established this building which we have been waiting for a long time. It was sad because people had to die to enable its construction.”

Itamar has a complex history, with several terrorist attacks in its past, but Leah has no doubts about living there. She says it’s simply her place, no question about it. She is connected to the people, the land. She feels more connected to the Land of Israel in Itamar. Here she can find the education she sees fit to give to her children. The danger will not cause her family to leave. “I am not making an ideological statement – This is the place that is good for me. Other places are dangerous as well. We live with it, cope with it.”

Leah concludes by inviting everyone to visit Itamar. “From afar is seems dangerous, but it not. It’s clear to me that this is our place.  There are massive open spaces. In my eye’s mind I see them being filled with houses. All we need is people to come.”

About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Itamar, a Year Later – “We Will Prevail””

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu
Rubio: No Moral Equivalence Btwn Israel, Hamas
Latest News Stories
US Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu

Rubio: Civilian deaths in Gaza “100 percent” responsibility of Hamas

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Foreign Minister protests UNRWA storage of missiles, equipment in UN facilities.

Funeral of Max Steinberg z"l

Father of fallen soldier Max Steinberg stuns crowd, ends eulogy with simple cry: Am Yisrael Chai.

US Secy of State John Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem there is “still work to be done” in trying for a cease fire with Hamas.

The IDF was forced to attack a Gaza City hospital on Wednesday when it became a Hamas terrorist base.

Outgoing President Shimon Peres thanks UN leader Ban Ki-moon but warns it is time to stop ignoring Hamas terrorism and help Israel.

Another UNRWA school is found to be a storage spot for untold number of Hamas missiles.

Former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg defied a flight ban imposed by an Obama administration cowed by terror, flying to Israel with El Al.

Golani brigade commander was hospitalized after being wounded, but he returned to the battlefield to complete the mission.

The Ruderman Family Foundation rewards Jewish organizations for promoting inclusion of those with disabilities.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

Israel’s transportation minister said cancelling flights to Israel is like handing a prize to terrorists.

Ban ki-Moon and John Kerry might have some credibility if they would talk peace with terrorists in Syria.

“Like all mothers of soldiers, I pray that this ends peacefully, that all the boys come home safe-and-sound,” Ruthie says.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said Tuesday that he respects the legitimacy of Israel’s right to defend itself, but also called on Israel to limit its reaction to ongoing Hamas rocket fire at Israeli civilians. According to a report on the Hebrew-language Ynet website, Mr Ban also said his organization rejected the terror gang’s […]

Left-wing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that no ceasefire is imminent between Israel and Hamas, and added that the current military operation in the Gaza Strip was “unavoidable.” Speaking to Army Radio, Livni said there is no substance to Palestinian reports earlier in the day that Israel and the terrorists were considering an additional […]

More Articles from Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency
Israeli docs operate on patients. Not quite the same 'operations' at Gaza hospital

Leading US paper interviews Hamas leader, shocked to ‘discover’ interview takes place in civilian hospital.

An IDF patrol along the Gaza border.

The IDF is determined to destroy as many tunnels as possible, eliminating this imminent threat to the citizens of Israel. 23 terror tunnels have been uncovered by IDF forces since July 17th.

Netanyahu said: “The IDF is making progress in the field according to plan and the operation will be expanded until the goal is achieved – restoring quiet to the citizens of Israel for a long period.”

Father Gabriel Nadaf, head of Arab Christian community in Israel, says Israel had ‘no choice’ but to enter Gaza.

Father Gabriel Nadaf dispatched a letter to ambassadors stationed in Israel, calling on them to support Israel’s government and the IDF during Operation ‘Protective Edge’, to unite and fight terrorism and “to safeguard the Holy Land.”

There was yet another attempted infiltration this morning and attempt to massacre Israeli civilians. B”H, all the terrorists were killed.

Since the beginning of the ground phase of the operation the IDF engaged and killed 110 terrorist, and targeted 1,032 terror sites, 341 of which were targeted since this morning.

Netanyahu has been speaking with world leaders, to strengthen Israel’s diplomatic position.

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/itamar-a-year-later-we-will-prevail/2012/05/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: