It has been seven years since five members of the Fogel family – parents Ehud and Ruth, and three of their six children Yoav 11, Elad 4 and Hadas who was only three months old – were butchered in their home in Itamar while they were sleeping. Baby Hadas was decapitated. It is difficult to even type the words about such an unspeakable horror.
I will always remember the number of years passing since this horrific event because it happened on the Shabbat evening before my wedding in Israel.
The images of the scene that were released on the following day – horrific, blood-soaked beds and walls – shook me to the core. That night I went to the Mikvah, a pre-wedding ritual, and immersed myself in water. This is supposed to be an act of spiritual rebirth, but I could not shake that awful feeling that our moment of pure celebration was taking place at the darkest moment for another family not more than a half hour’s drive away from us.
The two Palestinian murderers, cousins Amjad and Hakim Awad, were captured after a short manhunt, but not before Palestinian media linked to leader Mahmoud Abbas falsely claimed that the murders had been committed by (as it turned out, non-existent) Thai workers. Showing no remorse whatsoever, the murderers were handed down multiple life sentences for their actions.
They were of course, praised by Hamas for their “heroic” act, and one of their mothers even appeared on a Palestinian Authority controlled media to praise her son – the “apple of her eye”, while his aunt described him as a “hero and a legend”.
In the seven years that have passed since, a lot has changed but not the incitement to violence that led to such gruesome and sickening scenes.
The images of the kitchen in the house in Halamish where three members of the one family were murdered over Shabbat dinner last year was very reminiscent of the Itamar attack, as was that of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel who was murdered while asleep in her bed in late June 2016.
The highest levels of Palestinian political and religious leadership are responsible for creating and perpetuating an environment where Palestinians are encouraged to carry out terrorist attacks, and are given incentives to do so as well.
This comes in the form of rewarding terrorists and their families for their actions. To this day, the families of Hakim and Amjad Awad receive money from the Palestinian Authority and the amounts awarded them are well above the normal pensions that would otherwise be available to them. Just last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised this issue at AIPAC, and specifically pointing out the Itamar murderers, he said:
“But to get peace, to get peace, President Abbas has to embrace peace and to stop supporting terror. Raise your hands high if you agree with me that President Abbas should stop paying terrorists who murder Jews. You know how much he pays? He pays about $350 million dollars a year terrorists and their families, each year. That’s about a little less than 10% of the total Palestinian budget. That’s an incredible number. He pays Hakim Awad. Hakim Awad is the terrorist who murdered this beautiful family of Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children, including a 3 month-old baby girl, Hadas. So he pays Hakim Awad, this murderer, and over the lifetime of this killer, he will be receiving two million dollars.”
What sort of message does this send to Palestinian children? It says forget about striving for coexistence and peace – rather, just murder Jews and you will get rich. Netanyahu adds, “I believe President Abbas should find better use for this money – to build roads, schools, hospitals, factories. Build life, don’t pay death.”
Those affected by Palestinian terror are also saying that enough is enough. Enough glorifying death. Enough of making becoming a martyr or murdering Jews an attractive financial option. The family of the Fogels have recently announced that they are suing the Palestinian Authority for NIS 400 million.
The family said, “even to this day, the terrorists are receiving inflated salaries from the Palestinian Authority, which is contrary to all logic and justice. In filing this suit, we seek to send a message in the name of anyone with a human heart.”
The other thing that has not changed in the past seven years is the way in which many in the media blindly acquiesce to the promotion of violence against Israelis and in doing so, the often mislead their readership, the latest example being the NBC’s downplaying of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi’s attack on two Israeli soldiers and her incitement to bloodshed on Israelis as being a struggle against “the occupation” when the objective of her family’s and her own propaganda have always been to oppose the continuation of Israel in any borders.
NBC would have people believe that Tamimi’s slap makes her a heroic symbol while all the time, she is in fact, an advocate for the violence of the sort that has caused so much death and misery to both sides but in particular perpetuates the plight of the Palestinian people. That NBC, like the Guardian and others in the media have withheld the words of incitement used by Tamimi, makes them complicit in their plight.
The media which through this form of dissembling has assisted calls for “justice” for Ahed Tamimi by releasing her and assisting her to avoid trial for assault and incitement of violence. These are the words she uttered, filmed and broadcast to the world by her own mother and which a complicit media seeks to airbrush out of existence in order to support this particular call for “justice”:-
“I hope that everyone will take part in the demonstrations as this is the only way to achieve the result. Our strength is in our stones, and I hope that the world will unite to liberate Palestine, because [U.S. President] Trump made his declaration and they need to take responsibility for any response that comes from us, whether it is stabbings or martyrdom operations [suicide bombings] or throwing stones, everyone must do something and we unite in this way in order for our message to be heard that we want to liberate Palestine.“ (remembering that her version of liberating Palestine does not mean two states for two people)
There is however, no similar call for justice for the victims of the violence, the stabbings and the suicide bombings which Tamimi supports. No justice for the Fogel family or for teenager Hallel Yaffa Ariel who were murdered in their beds. No justice for the thousands who were murdered by martyrdom operations including those of her family members who Ahed Tamimi expresses her adoration. No justice for the victims of the Sbarro bombing perpetrated by Tamimi’s much admired (by Ahed and the rest of the clan) aunt which killed 15 civilians including 7 children and a pregnant woman, and wounded 130.
No amount of purification rituals can erase the images of carnage from our minds or give justice to the victims of the incitement coming from this teenage girl’s mouth and which the Tamimi family deems fit to broadcast to the world.
Emily Gian is the Media & Advocacy Director for the Zionist Federation of Australia.