There’s no end in sight to this current round of violence.
Last week was very troubling. On Jan. 17, a terrorist infiltrated Otniel, a West Bank settlement in the Southern Hebron Hills. He randomly entered a home and stabbed 38-year-old Dafna Meir to death in her kitchen. Dafna was a respected naturopathic nurse who worked in her own community and at Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva. She was well known for helping women with gynecological issues.
At home with three of her six children when the terrorist intruded, she did all she could to prevent him from reaching those children. Apparently, her screams scared him away after he’d completed his cowardly act of hatred.
The next day, a different terrorist stabbed Michal Froman in Tekoa, another West Bank settlement, not far from Bethlehem. Froman’s father-in-law was renowned Rabbi Menachem Froman, an exceptional West Bank religious leader who promoted interfaith dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
Michal was at a second-hand clothing warehouse in Tekoa’s industrial zone when the terrorist entered. Asked to leave, he pulled out a knife, chased several women, reached Michal and stabbed her in the shoulder, then fled.
Roughly 30, Michal is pregnant. She knew Dafna. She’s recovering at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Thankfully, the attack did no damage to her fetus.
Upon hearing of her stabbing, Shivi, Michal’s husband, raced to the hospital. He was held up in traffic caused by Dafna’s funeral procession. I heard him on the radio as he described his prayer-filled journey to the hospital.
At Dafna’s funeral, her teenage daughter Renana, who had witnessed her murder, apologized to her mother for not doing enough to try to save her.
Later that day, Michal described how she’d looked into her assailant’s eyes. More than wanting to kill her, she saw someone wanting to die. He didn’t. As he fled the scene, this 15-year-old from Bethlehem was shot in the leg and severely wounded.
During the radio interview, I heard Shivi speak of using both hands to deal with the present situation – one, with all necessary power, to eliminate the nefarious forces of evil, and the other extended to good people on the other side willing to make peace. What happened to Michal had not changed his views.
On Jan. 19, while driving my son to school, we learned that Dafna’s killer had been apprehended during the night. The Shin Bet got information he’d returned home after the attack, to his village just a few kilometres from Otniel. IDF special forces had literally plucked the 16-year-old from his bed as he slept. Apparently his act of terror was revenge for the death of a cousin who’d been shot while trying to stab a soldier not long ago.
I continued that morning to a doctor’s appointment with a specialist I’d never visited before. In a distinctly Israeli way, after the examination, we somehow discovered we were both colonels, 50-somethings still serving in the IDF reserves – he a doctor in a serious combat unit, me a lawyer.
We discussed the news of the day. He’s all for a peaceful solution with the Palestinians, but none is in the offing, and with continuing violence against innocent Israelis, novel means of deterrence must be employed, he said. Young Palestinians perpetrating terrorist acts must know their families will suffer because of their actions.
We lawyers, he added, should be less restrictive, more creative in allowing acts of deterrence. Administrative detentions, house demolitions and the like are no longer enough. Expel their families to Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.
“Easier said than done,” I replied because of international law on collective punishment. In any event, his suggestions were more tactical than strategic. Renewed dialogue between the sides is what’s needed.
I reminded him he had other patients outside. We agreed to continue our discussion the next time I visited. I was sombre as I left the clinic. He’s right. I’m right.
Dafna, Michal, and on Monday, 23-year-old Shlomit Krigman. At least twenty-nine Israelis killed since September. Hundreds injured.
When will this end?