The trial of Isam Barghouti – convicted of murdering two soldiers (Yuval Mor-Yosef and Yosef Cohen) and a newborn baby (Amiad Yisrael Ish-Ran) during Chanukah last year – has reached the pre-sentencing stage.
The latest session of the trial took place last Tuesday at the Ofer Military Court, north of Jerusalem. Chaim Silberstein, grandfather of Amiad, Hy”d (and a Jewish Press columnist) spoke before the judges. What follows are his remarks:
My name is Chaim Silberstein, the father of Shira Ish-Ran. Just over a year ago, my daughter Shira and my son-in-law Amichai Ish-Ran were standing at a bus stop outside Ofrah. It was the 8th night of Chanukah, and they were on their way home to Elon Moreh.
They had just gotten married 10 months earlier, and they had spent the evening at Amichai’s parents’ home in Jerusalem to light Chanukah candles and celebrate the holiday. What happiness there was! To be with family, to celebrate, and to feel the gentle kicks of the fetus in Shira’s womb. In just two more months, their first child, our first grandchild, was to be born.
And then, in one moment, the accursed terrorists, may their names be erased, cut off all the happiness and the anticipation.
The terrorists drove slowly by the bus stop, and suddenly fired a storm of bullets at the innocent people standing there. Shira was very critically injured; a bullet tore open a major artery and vein, and she began bleeding profusely. The bullet’s exit hole was 15 centimeters [6 inches] wide.
Amichai was hit by three bullets in his leg, but still, he jumped on Shira to protect her. Five other people there were also hurt. Thank G-d, Magen David Adom paramedics arrived very quickly and evacuated them to the hospital.
Shira at this point was in mortal, life-threatening condition. She was rushed into the operating room, and after six critical hours, the doctors were able to save her life and stabilize her condition. They were forced to deliver the baby in an emergency operation in order to save Shira, who was kept unconscious and on a respirator.
It is hard to describe the terrible fears and concerns that we felt at that time. She had lost so much blood that she received transfusions of 50 doses of blood and supplements. Her entire body was bloated; we could not recognize her. We prayed that she would get through the next few days safely and that there would be no irreversible brain damage.
On the third day, she finally woke up, but the doctors said that she was still in grave condition. Unfortunately, the baby’s condition was deteriorating. The doctors explained to us that because of the lack of oxygen and blood, and the trauma that he underwent in those first critical minutes after the attack, great damage had been caused to his brain and to his other bodily systems, and that the chances that he would survive were very small.
The doctors suggested that Shira and Amichai meet their baby before his soul would depart. Despite their great weakness, they agreed, and they were brought to the emergency ward for infants. The meeting was simply heart-rending, too hard to bear. When Shira held her new and dying baby, she lifted her head and cried out: “We will show them! We will bring many more children into the world. Am Yisrael chai!” And within a few short hours, the baby died.
That very night, the funeral was held on the Mt. of Olives in a special section reserved for babies. Because of their medical condition, Shira and Amichai were unable to attend their son’s funeral.
The name that they chose for him – Amiad Yisrael – means “my nation forever – Israel.” It expressed a powerful message for the entire nation of Israel.
Shira remained in the Intensive Care Unit for several more days, and was then transferred to the surgery ward. The doctors continually warned us that her condition was still considered “severe,” but we continued to pray and hope for the best. Shira remained in Shaarei Tzedek for a month, and was then moved for rehabilitation hospitalization to Hadassah Hospital in Mt. Scopus.
From the moment of this repulsive terror attack, our lives changed totally. The first three days, until Shira woke up, were a terrible nightmare. The entire period of her hospitalization left deep scars, with great fears for the rest of our lives. A day does not pass that we do not think of this terrible experience; the attack, the fears, the feelings, the sorrow and mourning, and the worries about the physical and psychological well-being of Shira and Amichai, and of all the family members, no matter how old or young.
More than a year has now passed since the terrorist attack, and Shira is still undergoing rehabilitation. She suffers from many medical issues, and has even been hospitalized several times. She goes to the hospital almost every week for check-ups and treatments. And of course there is the post-trauma that weighs heavily upon her every day, all the time, and has concrete effects on almost everything she and Amichai do. This is of great concern to her, and to us as well.
They will never again be able to wage normal, happy lives – the type of life that every innocent, fresh couple deserves – without the black cloud that hovers heavily upon them. Not to mention the physical effects of the abominable attack, which continue to pain her and concern us greatly. Shira and Amichai today have state-recognized disabilities, and will never be able to freely enjoy sports or healthy and fun exercise.
With a few Kalachnikov bullets, this despicable terrorist cut off the life of my precious and pure grandson, Amiad Yisrael, Hy”d, who survived only three days. He also damaged and embittered the remainder of the lives of my daughter and son-in-law, as well as those of the families of other victims and survivors.
It is very hard to describe the sadness and mourning that we felt, and still feel, on the loss of our grandson in these circumstances, and the sorrow and suffering that our children undergo every day with the sights, the pain, and the trauma accompanying them every moment.
Make no mistake: This accursed terrorist, and others like him, will never break us, as my son-in-law Amichai said. On the contrary. We want and aim to continue to carry out the Zionist dream of the nation of Israel, in the land of Israel – all of it – according to the Torah of Israel. Our will does not waver, and rather becomes ever stronger, dynamic and relevant. With all the pain, we will continue to march forth with our heads raised, without fear, and with extraordinary pride to be those who have merited to fulfill, in our generation, the visions of our prophets and the dreams of our forefathers.
This terrorist does not deserve to live. Would it be that you would sentence him to death, which would barely begin to be a type of justice. But if you do not see fit to give him what he truly deserves, then we ask that you please at least sentence him to life sentences such that he will never again go free. May his conditions of incarceration be such that are appropriate for a debased murderous terrorist; may his life be embittered, as he [embittered the lives of] so many victims and their families.
So much joy of life was taken away from us – and so we plead that at least we not be left in constant dread that this sub-human will one day see the light of day outside prison walls. It is inconceivable to any of us how it happened that this very terrorist has already spent 11 years in prison for terrorist attacks – and yet was released and once again committed murderous attacks with such painful and tragic results. This time, let him receive the absolute maximum sentence that the law allows.
By handing down a stringent sentence, you honorable judges will be able to do something to possibly prevent other terrorist attacks. As is written in the Book of Jeremiah (22:3): “So said G-d: Perform justice and charity; rescue the robbed from the hand of the robber; and to a stranger, an orphan, and a widow do no wrong, do no violence, and shed no innocent blood in this place.”
Thank you very much.