A few minutes ago I came home from a packed living room, filled with others like myself, who had come to pay condolences to the pregnant wife and family of Yehuda Partush, who was killed on Sunday night by Arab terrorists five minutes out of Kiryat Arba. Yesterday I spent an hour and a half driving to Petach Tikva to do the same thing at the home of the parents of Nahum Hoss, long-time resident of Hebron who was also murdered in the terrorist attack. This morning bus drive Amitai Hashai, wounded in the chest by terrorist bullets, also made his way to the Hoss home. Mys 13 year old son visited our neighbor, Shalom Dahan, who was today released from the hospital. He was hit in the back by a bullet. Fortunately it missed his spine, and he was not critically wounded.
Some of the miracles:
Shlomit Koran is an elementary school teacher in a Kiryat Arba school. She was on the bus and was not injured. Upon arriving home, she was too upset to prepare her next-day lessons. When she arrived in school the following morning, she noticed that her diary was torn. She opened it and found inside it the remains of a bullet. Only then did she notice that her briefcase had a hole in it.
Berta Klein lives in Beit Hadassah in Hebron. She was on the bus with one of her children, a baby. When the shooting started her first impulse was to crouch down, with the baby who was on her lap. However, for some reason she lifted the baby up. As she did a bullet whizzed by her, crossing the path where the baby had been sitting.
Yaffa Tene is a Kiryat Arba social worker who was on her way to an evening meeting. She was traveling from Kiryat Arba towards Jerusalem when the shooting started. Her car passed the bus, going in the other direction. The passengers in the car heard the shooting and put on the gas, thereby escaping the terrorist’s bullets. So they thought. When the car finally stopped they found that it had been hit by 25 bullets. No one in the car was hit.
Yehuda Mintz was widowed suddenly a month ago, when his wife passed away following a short illness. He sat down in the first seat of the bus, opposite the driver. When the bus left Jerusalem he said to someone that he was going to go sit in the back of the bus because he wanted to rest and didn’t want to be disturbed by other passengers getting on. A few minutes later Nahum Hoss sat down in that seat.
Some personal chronology: At about 7:00PM Sunday nightI received a phone call from my parents in Sarasota FL. They asked how everything was, and I replied, “relatively quiet. Lately things have been relatively quiet.” At about 7:55 that ambulance sirens began whining in Kiryat Arba. I went outside and heard that a bus had been shot at. People had been injured. I found a ride with a friend and we made our way to the site of the terrorist attack. Ambulances, medics, bright lights, and people crying filled the area. And the bus, stopped at the side of the road. Just before the left turn to Kiryat Arba. On the street a doctor, a resident of Hebron, rose in disgust. His patient, 40 year old Yehuda Partush. was dead, shot in the chest. Yehuda had been in Jerusalem with his wife Mazal, signing a contract for their new house, in the Givat Harsina neighborhood of Kiryat Arba. They had just received the key. On their way back to Kiryat Arba the bus was hit by terrorist gunfire. Yehuda fell on his wife, sitting at his side, protecting her from the bullets. He was killed. She was not hit. As I arrived they covered his body with a blanket.
I climbed up on the bus. It was riddled by bullet holes and was empty. Almost. On the first seat, across from the drivers seat, slumped over, was Nahum Hoss. I didn’t know Nahum well, or for a long time. But in the short time I did know him I had become accustomed to the ever-present smile on his face. Always smiling. Always with some good word. Always concerned about something. Nahum was dead, killed instantly, by a bullet in his head. A little while later, when we removed him from the bus into the ambulance, his body was still warm. But dead. My first thoughts were “his poor wife. Now she’s alone.” They didn’t yet have children.
You may ask yourselves why I’m writing all this. It is very simple. You may think that what I have described is the most horrible thing one can possibly imagine. I also thought so, once, a long time ago. About a year and a half ago, when, coming home from Jerusalem I ran into something very similar just outside of the entrance to Kiryat Arba. Then, I witnessed the remains of Mordechi and Shalom Lapid stretched out on the street. At that time, I thought that was the most horrible thing one could possibly imagine. But since then, it has happened again, and again, and again, and again. Not that we get used to it. It is like a recurring nightmare, but it’s real. That’s the worst part. It keeps happening, over and over again. In the last two years 11 people, most of them from Kiryat Arba or the surrounding region, have been killed in this area by terrorist gunfire.
So why tell you, the reader, about it. First, so that you should have some idea, even if it be only vague, what we are going through. I don’t wish it upon any of you. However, what is more important, and as you may notice by the title of this commentary, we are not about to give in, even with the price we are being made to pay. For as Samuel the prophet said to King Saul, “The eternal Israel will not lie or repent; for He is not a man that He should repent” (I Samuel 15:29).
It is true, if we were not here then some of us might not be dead. But others would be, in Jerusalem, or Tel-Aviv, or other cities in Israel, where terrorists would continue to sow their seeds of hate – hate of Jews, living in the Land of Israel. If we were not in Hebron, then you would not be able to come visit the Cave of the Patriarchs. the tomb of the first Jews, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Lea. We must be here for all the Jews, throughout the centuries who dared dream of one day returning to the “Holy Land”. And we must be here for the Jews of tomorrow, the Jews of the future, protecting and preserving a heritage 3,500 years old. For it belongs to them too. Even at so steep a price. And believe me, it really is.