After a Child’s Murder, a Search for Justice
It has been a struggle to keep my daughter’s memory alive. Israeli society prefers to forget terror attacks and forge ahead. Foreign journalists marvel at the haste with which every trace of carnage left at a site is removed; at the quick return of traffic and normality. But for 24 hours each year, we lift the lid on our grief and let the tears flow.
My precious Malki died at the age of fifteen in the terror attack that has come to symbolize the Second Intifada: the bombing of Jerusalem’s Sbarro Restaurant in August, 2001. That massacre snuffed out the lives of fifteen Jews, among them eight children, the youngest of whom was two years old.
I suggest we focus this Remembrance Day on the 129 Israeli children killed by Palestinian terrorists during the past thirteen years. The world is preoccupied with mourning Palestinian children and has forgotten the atrocities committed against Jewish children. We must remind them.
Malki left us only her writings and her art. They offer a glimpse into the soul of a sensitive, religious, idealistic, artistic and talented Israeli teen.
She kept a diary between September 2000 and June 2001. There, interspersed with long, involved accounts of school, Ezra (a youth organization in which she was a young leader) and family activities are the details of each terror attack perpetrated during those 10 months.
On April 29, she wrote:
“I woke at 10. Levona and I went first to R.L. [a teacher] whose mother passed away last week (it is very sad because she is an only child, unmarried and has no father. She sat shiva alone!) She was in a very good state. Spoke a lot, told about her mother. Then we went to the Gerard Behar Center Library. We spent 6 hours there without food or drink!!! We finished biology. In the evening I went to a lecture given by Rav Elon with Shulamit, Leah, Efrat Shafir and Chen [her friends]. I didn’t exactly understand the lecture but it was fun. I met Zvi [her brother] there and we stayed for Arvit. “Sunday is now completed…”
Then, apparently later and in a different colored pen, she added:
“Aryeh Hershkowitz, may his death be avenged was shot dead a month ago. Now his son was shot dead near Ofra!!! Only the little brother can say Kaddish.”
On the first page of her diary is a printed list of personal details: name, address, phone number and so on. And finally partner’s name. Here Malki wrote:
“Still unknown, but will arrive, G-d willing, with time.”
We would never have imagined that our pain could deepen. But one and a half years ago, prime minster Netanyahu taught us otherwise.
Discarding reasoned judicial rulings, verdicts and sentences along with his vaunted ideals, he caved in to Hamas pressure and released hundreds of convicted terrorist murderers in the Gilad Shalit deal.
He then assured the public that he had contacted the victims of those evil-doers to explain his decision, when in fact he had not – and never did.
Malki’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, the self-confessed engineer of the Sbarro bombing, was among those Palestinian prisoners. Several months after she had walked free, Mr. Netanyahu inexplicably decided that reuniting Tamimi with her father and brothers in her hometown, Amman, was not enough. He buckled under again, this time to the demand of Tamimi’s fiancé, Nazir Al-Tamimi, to be permitted to enter Jordan in order to marry.
The conditions of Al-Tamimi’s release had expressly forbidden his exiting the West Bank. But justice no longer seems to interest our prime minister very much. The evil couple were married at a well-publicized extravaganza before throngs of Hamas supporters and are now expecting a baby.
In a 1985 speech before the American Bar Association, the late Margaret Thatcher said:
“We have behind us many fine declarations and communiques of good intent. We need action; action to which all countries are committed until the terrorist knows that he has no haven, no escape. Alas that is far from true today.”
Here in Israel where the threat of terrorism is constant, terrorists fear little. In fact, they can be as cocky as Malki’s murderer: “I do not regret what I did… I will be free again,” she told interviewers twice during her imprisonment. She knew our prime minister better than we did.
Let us all resolve today to prevent a recurrence of the Shalit Deal outrage. State leaders must be compelled to find other means of resolving crises. They must be reminded of the significance of justice: murderers belong in prison serving the sentences meted out to them by our judges and juries – not by our prime ministers.
While we cannot return our murdered children, we can restore our discarded justice.
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer in Jerusalem. Her daughter Malki was murdered at the age of 15 in the Sbarro restaurant bombing (2001). With her husband Arnold. she founded the Malki Foundation (www.malkifoundation.org); it provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.