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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Itamar’

Itamar, a Year Later – “We Will Prevail”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

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.”

First Yahrzeit of the Massacre of Five Members of the Fogel Family

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Tonight marks the first yahrzeit of the massacre of five members of the Fogel family.

Ehud Fogel was brutally murdered while asleep in his home in the Samaria community of Itamar, along with his wife, Ruth, and their three children, Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months). They are survived by the Fogel’s remaining children – Tamar (12), Roi (8), and Yishai (2).

To honor their memory, a Beit Midrash named Mishkan Ehud will be dedicated in Itamar.

Terrorists Attempt Attack on Court During Sentencing of Fogels’ Murderer

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

A major terror attack at the Salem Military Court was prevented by IDF soldiers, just as the court was set to sentence the convicted murderer of almost all the members of a Jewish family from Samaria.

Amjad Awad, who entered the Salem Military Court with a smile on his face Monday, said he did not regret stabbing to death both parents and 3 of the 5 children of the Fogel family in their home in Itamar in March 2010.

Before the court handed down the sentence – five life sentences – two terrorists approached a checkpoint of the court carrying bags containing 11 pipe bombs, a gun, and ammunition.  The two 20 year-olds were stopped by Border and Military Police, searched, and discovered to be on their way to attack the court.

Awad was convicted of all charges against him: five counts of murder, two counts of weapons trafficking, and conspiracy to commit murder.

Awad’s cousin and partner, Hakim, was sentenced in September to five life terms for the murders of parents Udi, 36 and Ruth,35, and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and Hadas, four months.  Three of the Fogel children – eldest daughter Tamar, and boys Roi and Yishai – were not involved in the attack.  They are being raised by their grandparents.

Just eight days prior, Border Police caught 4 terrorists carrying 12 explosives, a gun, ammunition, and a commando knife.

Terrorist Who Murdered Five Members of Fogel Family Gets Five Life Sentences

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Amjad Awad, one of the two individuals convicted in the Fogel family massacre in Itamar, was sentenced to five consecutive life terms and an additional seven years in prison.

The Samaria Military Court on Monday sentenced Awad, after convicting him and his cousin last November in the shocking murders of Udi and Ruth Fogel and three of their children: Yoav, 11, Elad, 4 and four-month-old Hadas.

“I don’t regret what I did, and would do it again,” Amjad Awad said in May. “I’m proud of what I did and I’ll accept any punishment I get, even death, because I did it all for Palestine,”

Awad entered the courtroom smiling, and remained silent throughout the course of the hearing.

 

 

Murdered Family Honored By Holocaust Torah

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In an effort to honor the memory of a Jewish Israeli family which experienced its own personal Holocaust, an American donor has dedicated a Torah scroll rescued from the flames of the Shoah to help build their community.

Ehud (36), Ruth (35), Yoav (11), Elad (4), and Hadas (3 months) Fogel were knifed to death in their home in the Samaria community of Itamar on March 11 by a pair of Arabs from neighboring Awarta.  Three Fogel children – Tamar, Roi, and Yishai – were not physically harmed and have been taken in by their grandparents.

An international outcry was raised following the massacre, with foreign governments condemning the killings and Jewish communities holding memorial services.  In New York, a man by the name of Jack Ross prepared a gift for the community of Itamar, to strengthen the grieving town.

Ross, who was in possession of a Torah scroll which had been rescued from Poland during the Holocaust, made contact with Itamar with the help of Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), and offered to donate the scroll to the community.

He then had the scroll repaired and restored by a scribe.  Next, he joined a group from AFSI to go to Itamar and help finish building a synagogue and new ark for the residents, a project sponsored by the Israel Independence Fund.  On Tuesday, he and the inhabitants of Itamar took part in a ceremony to write the last letters in the scroll, and to escort it to its new home in the new ark of the new synagogue.

At the ceremony, Samaria Regional Council Liaison David Ha’ivri and Itamar Mayor Moshe Goldsmith presented Ross and AFSI president Helen Freedman with certificates of appreciation.

Samaria Regional Council Director Gershon Mesika told attendees that just as the Torah is the heart of the Jewish people, Itamar is the heart of Israel on the map.  He thanked Ross and the directors of AFSI and the Israel Independence Fund for their friendship and ongoing support.

‘Winds Of Change’ Should Not Include A Palestinian State

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

“With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” President Obama saidlast week after meeting with Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Peres’s visit was widely regarded as a groundbreaker for a visit in May by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu is expected to come under a mounting tide of pressure on the Palestinian-state issue, culminating in a Palestinian attempt to secure UN recognition of a Palestinian state in September.

Meanwhile a poll by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found that one-third of Palestinians approved the attack in the Israeli West Bank community of Itamar in March. In that attack, five members of the Fogel family – the parents as well as their 11-year-old son, 4-year-old son, and 3-month-old daughter – were stabbed to death in their home.

Four decades ago America was shocked by the Manson murders – intruders shot and stabbed to death four adults and a teenage boy at the house of actress Sharon Tate in Los Angeles (Tate, one of the stabbing victims, was eight months pregnant). One can imagine the horror Americans would have felt toward any society one-third of whose members approved the Manson murders. On the scale of horror, the Itamar massacre, given the ages of three of the victims, was even worse.

Two other points should be made.

One is that the Itamar perpetrators have not yet been caught – in contrast to other Palestinian terror attacks where Israeli security forces usually quickly nabbed the culprits. The delay this time is attributed to Israel having withdrawn its forces from much of the West Bank, to be replaced by U.S.-trained Palestinian forces.

The second point is that while the ages of the young Itamar victims may indeed have been “too much” for many Palestinians, that wasn’t the case with the 2008 massacre by gunfire of seven teenage boys and a young man in Jerusalem’s Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva. That attack won the approval of 84 percent of Palestinians.

The murderous hatred of many of the Palestinians who are supposed to be awarded a state abutting Israel can be added to the many other arguments against such a state, at least at this time, that make no impression on the devout. Or as Netanyahu himself said recently – not about a Palestinian state per se, but about the supposed centrality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the region and the world – “There is no evidence that these true believers will not ignore.”

Take, for instance, the statement by Obama, who certainly must be counted among those believers, mentioned above. Rationally speaking, the “winds of change blowing through the Arab world” should not make “more urgent than ever” the creation of a Palestinian state, but induce more wariness than ever.

Those winds have already blown away the Mubarak government in Egypt, which upheld a formal albeit icy-cold peace with Israel for three decades, and is likely to be replaced by a far more hostile, quite possibly belligerent, regime.

Then there’s Jordan, also formally at peace with Israel since 1994, now subject as well to instability and seething with Islamist and Palestinian hatred of Israel. As for Syria, while the Alawite regime of the Assads is already one of the most hostile toward Israel, it’s also a regime that has, out of pragmatism, maintained a peaceful border since 1973; its weakening, and the rise of Sunni Islamists in its stead, could well put an end to that pragmatism.

Rationally, then, the overall instability of the Middle East, where regimes can disappear overnight, is not an argument for creating yet another Middle Eastern state squeezed up against your borders; it’s an argument against it.

To this must be added the results of Israel’s previous territorial withdrawals over the past decade – from Lebanon, leading to Hizbullah’s takeover of the south and eventually the whole country, now teeming with military facilities directed at Israel; and from Gaza, leading to the empowerment of Hamas and an ongoing nightmare of rocket fire and warfare.

Put popular Palestinian hatred in the mix, and the idea of the Palestinian state as an urgent policy goal emerges as not just irrational but crazy. It’s been suggested that Netanyahu, instead of trying to parry the pressures with deft diplomatic games, should start boldly enunciating the truth. It makes a lot of sense.

The Beginning Of The Left’s End

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I was filled with an uncomfortable feeling in the face of the Itamar massacre. Everyone is in shock. I feel horrible pain. But I am not shocked.


Shock is the result of surprise – and I am not surprised by what happened. I honestly don’t understand why others are surprised. We didn’t read what they did to the bodies of the 35 Gush Etzion martyrs? We didn’t live through years of suicide bombings? Just recently, Israel released the terrorist Samir Kuntar, who smashed the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran on the Nahariya beach years ago. What is the difference between this murderer and the murderer of Hadas Fogel? What has changed? This is how many Arabs act. There is nothing to be surprised about.


The shock most severely affected those people who, with all their might, insisted on deceiving themselves. They convinced themselves that we are in a peace process, that all the Arabs want are political rights, sovereignty, self-definition and the like. They wanted so badly to be normal. On the way, they fashioned an enemy for themselves who demanded what they wanted him to demand. Now they are shocked. For a moment they had to face the truth: This enemy is not normal, and his goal is not what their Western minds are trying to force into reality. Logical goals like self-definition and other palatable concepts are not part of the true picture.


The slaughter of a sleeping baby is unacceptable as a tool in the struggle for any type of liberation. It comes from a dark place, from a place that simply wants to destroy you. It is behavior with which we are quite familiar – behavior that says to the shocked Israeli, “What are you talking about? I do not want you out of Shechem and Ramallah. I have them, anyway. All the money that you invest there will not make me like you. I simply want you out of this world. Go back to the Ukrainians, the Polish, the Austrians and the Germans. Let them take care of you. I did not slaughter the baby because she is an occupier on my sovereign soil. I slaughtered her because she is a Jew.”


The source of the shock is the understanding that there is nobody with whom to make peace – because they do not want to. The Arabs simply cannot stand the fact that we live anywhere in the world – certainly that we live in the Land of Israel.


In the past, the leftist elite managed to deal with the shock engendered by terror attacks. Their quintessentially demagogic and confusing slogan, “We will not let the enemies of peace achieve their goal” (and so we will continue with the retreats euphemistically known as the peace process) worked quite well with the public. But now it seems that something is starting to change. The massacre in Itamar shocked Israeli society more than similar attacks in the past because it no longer has anywhere to hide from the conclusions. The Oslo spin no longer works.


The Itamar massacre was perpetrated on the backdrop of the collapse of the regimes in Arab lands. Hosni Mubarak’s ouster revealed the fragility of our peace agreement with Egypt. It brought to the surface the fact that the dictators sold us the illusion of peace in the lowest dosage possible to keep us ignoring how their countrymen really felt about Israel. That is what made the Itamar massacre so shocking, brought all of our top statesmen to the funeral, and created the new perspective in the reporting of the tragedy and the live coverage on Army Radio.


“And so, since yesterday, I sit here in the corner, frustrated and frightened, internalizing that it is possible that in the end we will not have the peace that we dreamed of,” wrote Guy Maroz in Maariv after the massacre.


He even gives a tongue in cheek clue as to the only hope that he can think of: “Since yesterday, I want to hide under the wide Messianic dress of [settler leader Daniella Weiss].”


We are at the threshold of a new reality. On one hand, we are still firmly meshed onto the Western, Oslo playing field. We do not attack, but only retaliate. We are completely subordinate to the Western values that always force us to try to prove that we are the most miserable victims on the block. We are still very far from the ability to substantially change direction. On the other hand, though, the entire playing field is crumbling away.


We do not expect to win a political victory that will allow us to change the rules of the game in Israel. On the contrary, the game itself is about to change. The only relevant players in the new game will be those of us who have toiled throughout the years for a genuinely Jewish state.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/the-beginning-of-the-lefts-end-2/2011/03/30/

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