It was somehow incongruous that the burial, before the start of Shabbat last week, of the eight students who were murdered at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, took place under high blue skies and warm sunshine.
The sheer beauty and idyllic tranquility of the Mount of Olives, where three of the murdered boys were laid to rest, were no balm to the raw rage and aching anguish of the final, horrible moment when the shrouded corpses were placed in the earth and the words of the Kaddish were sobbingly intoned.
There is no balm to soothe the gash in the heart wrought by the frenzied, hate-driven slaughter of innocent youngsters.
As of this writing, no Palestinian or Arab organization had claimed responsibility for the attack, although some media reported over the weekend that the Palestinian Authority believes the murderer, Ala Abu Dhaim of east Jerusalem, acted on instructions from Hamas leaders in Damascus, in co-ordination with Hezbollah.
Rampaging fire from an automatic weapon aimed at unarmed students in a house of study, prayer and worship is perversely depraved. And yet it is of a piece with tying suicide belts on children; hiding bombs in school yard; using ambulances, baby carriages, and pregnant women as smuggling redoubts for weapons; constantly and deliberately aiming rockets at civilian populations; or using private homes as storage depots for rockets and bases of operation for fighters.
Thus, we are not really surprised at the nature of last week’s atrocity by the Israel and Jew-hating terrorists. But we are deeply revolted nonetheless. And all the more so because, as the world saw, the streets of Gaza were filled with joyous crowds celebrating the slaughter of the yeshiva innocents, laughing in twisted consonance with the official statement by Hamas that they “bless[ed] the operation. It will not be the last.”
Those who would apologize for, justify or explain the yeshiva murders as a desperate act of reprisal for the civilian deaths in Gaza earlier in the week should know that the attack against Mercaz Harav had apparently been planned for some time. Abu Dhaim had a large stockpile of weapons and ammunition in his home, and he had prepared for his “mission” with long hours of surveillance.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni succinctly, and not for the first time, alas, summarized the situation: “The murderous rampage against students… exemplifies all too well the heinous extremism of the fundamentalist foundations Palestinian terrorism is built upon… Despicable attacks such as this must strengthen the free world’s understanding of the terrorist threat, in the face of which we must stand resolute and without compromise. Israel expects the nations of the world to support it in its battle against the murderers of students, women and children.”
We are gratified to note that Canada is among those nations of the world who publicly and demonstrably support Israel in this vital, destiny-determining battle.