Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar. After the recent murders in Itamar, Jewish or not, do we really have something to celebrate?
The Jewish Festival of Purim commemorates a major victory over oppression and is recounted in the Megillah, the scroll of the story of Esther.
In the twelfth month, is the month of Adar, on its thirteenth day ... on the day that the enemies of the Jews were expected to prevail over them, it was turned about: the Jews prevailed over their adversaries. - Esther 9:1
And they gained relief on the fourteenth, making it a day of feasting and gladness. - Esther 9:17
[Mordecai instructed them] to observe them as days of feasting and gladness, and sending delicacies to one another, and gifts to the poor. - Esther 9:22
We are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry. According to the Talmud, a person is required to drink until he cannot tell the difference between "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordecai,"
In addition, we are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity.
Purim is much like Halloween, but better. People of every age dress up and celebrate, in Israel it is one big party. Being Jewish and having grown up in Israel I certainly know about Purim.
The Jewish month of Adar is the happiest month of the year. Aside from getting to celebrate Purim it’s the beginning of spring, the sun is shining, flowers are beginning to bloom and the birds are singing.
This year, however, is different.
Yesterday was Purim and throughout the world there was a gloom overshadowing the joy. This year 5 people that would have been celebrating are not.
Three children and their parents will not celebrate this joyous holiday and what’s more neither will the rest of their family.
Udi Fogel, 36, Ruth Fogel, 35, Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and three-month-old Hadas were brutally massacred by Palestinian terrorists. They were all stabbed to death inside their own home late last Friday night in the town of Itamar in Samaria, Israel.
This is not the first time the town of Itamar has seen terrorism. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website,
On May 29, 2001 - Gilad Zar, 41, of Itamar, was shot dead in a terrorist ambush while driving between Kedumim and Yizhar.
Gilad Zar, security officer of the Samaria Regional Council for the last four years, was hit by a hail of over 40 bullets as he drove on a bypass road between the communities of Yitzhar and Kedumim. The Palestinian terrorists shot at his windshield from a parked car, causing his car to overturn. They then got out, walked to Zar's car, shot him in the head at point-blank range, and fled to Nablus. Gilad died en route to hospital.
On May 28, 2002 three yeshiva (religious school) students Netanel Riachi, 17, of Kochav Ya'akov, Gilad Stiglitz, 14, of Yakir and Avraham Siton, 17, of Shilo were killed in Itamar, southeast of Nablus, when a Palestinian gunman infiltrated the community and opened fire on the teenagers.
At around 23:00 at night, the terrorist first saw two students playing basketball outside the yeshiva and shot them dead, then went in and opened fire, killing another student and wounding two more lightly before he was shot dead by one of the teachers, a reserve IDF officer.
On June 20, 2002 Rachel Shabo, 40, of Itamar was murdered along with three of her sons when a terrorist entered their home in Itamar, south of Nablus, and opened fire.
Shortly after 9 on Thursday night, the terrorist infiltrated the settlement, shooting in all directions before bursting into the Shabo home. The terrorist first shot the mother, Rachel (top right), in the back. Then he shot Avishai, 5 (top, second from right), Zvika, 13 (bottom, second from right), and Neria, 16 (bottom, third from left), as well as a neighbor, Yosef Twito, who came to their aid. Thirteen-year-old Avia told the doctor who treated her in the hospital that she had heard her mother shout out in pain and then all was quiet.
So how was this different? Terrorists killing civilians, targeting women or children, if there was a difference it was in the way it was played out by the media.
The media, for the most part turned this tragedy, this brutal massacre in to a political circus about Israel, land and settlements. But there is a story behind the story.
The Fogel family has a history within Israel and has been in the news before. Udi Fogel, the slain father was a Rabbi and an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) Tank Unit Officer. In 2005 he and his family were uprooted and forcibly removed from their home by the Israeli Government.
Anshel Pfeffer a journalist with Ha’aretz, one of Israels leading newspapers wrote about when he had met Rabbi Udi Fogel,
I met Rabbi Udi Fogel four and a half years ago; he did not look anything like a man who was about to lose his home. At the time, Udi, his wife Ruth and their three children were living in Netzarim, the most isolated of the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and the last one to be dismantled in the disengagement of the summer of 2005. He smiled, with just a hint of what may have been sadness or irony, and spoke calmly when I asked him how he felt about the government that was about to force him to leave and destroy his home. He did not express any rancor or anger. Despite his deep regret, he said that he continued to have huge faith in the Jewish people and the state of Israel.
As explained in part by Wikipedia,
Netzarim was formerly an Israeli settlement established in Gaza in 1972. In 1984 it became an orthodox kibbutz. A few years later, the residents decided to change from a kibbutz to a village. It was often referred to in the media as a stronghold for Religious Zionism. Its activities included a mango plantation and vineyard, hothouse cultivated yams and cherry tomatoes, and a prestigious etrog plantation. The settlement also boasted day care centers, kindergartens, a primary school, a kollel, a Yeshiva, and the Jews of Gaza Heritage Institute, which documented Jewish settlement in Gaza over the generations.
The residents of Netzarim were the last Israelis to be evicted on August 22, 2005 by the Israel Defense Forces during Israel's unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip ordered by the government of Ariel Sharon. Their eviction marked the end of the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip since the end of the 1967 Six-Day War. The strong religiosity of its residents was exhibited by seedlings being planted in the greenhouses, cement being laid for a new home that very morning, and a large prayer session in the main synagogue that would later be destroyed by Palestinians after the Israeli army finally abandoned the village on September 12, 2005.
Like so many of the other residents the Fogel family relocated to other settlements in the West Bank area. For the Fogel’s this was not a question of politics or of land Israel gained by winning an unwanted war. As Orthodox Jews they believe a higher authority, God and the Bible. This land was promised to the Jews, end of discussion.
But it does go much deeper than this, today when the Israeli Government allows these settlements to be built they ask people to move there, they encourage it. So the Fogels, an Orthodox family did what any Jewish, Zionist family would do, they heard the call and moved there.
Knowing full well the dangers with living inside a place such as the Gaza Strip didn’t matter and when that same Government forced them out they moved to the West Bank only to be slaughtered by the Palestinians that Israel refers to as their “Peace Partner”.
Simple explanation; There are two areas of “Palestinian” territory. The Gaza Strip which is run by Hamas, the terror organization that shoots rockets into Israeli cities on a daily basis. The other is the West Bank which is run by the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Fatah movement which is headed up by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Fatah and Abbas are known as the so called “moderates” and those that know me know how I feel about the use of the word “Moderate” and “Radical” when describing Islam.
To make the point, Hamas is on the U.S. State Departments list of terrorist organizations, but the Fatah movement is not. However, having said that, the military wing of the Fatah movement is the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade which is also on the State Departments list of terror organizations. Make sense? No, don’t worry; it makes no sense to me either.
Those that claimed responsibility for the massacre at the Fogel home were the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. I know of this group more than I would like, I know them on a first hand basis. Those that claimed responsibility to the terrorist bombing that I survived in Israel in 1975 was also the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.
Moderate my ass.
Around 10pm terrorists scaled the fence in Itamar, the fence is alarmed and the alarm sounded. A soldier investigated but not finding any cuts in the fence and no footprints he assumed an animal had set it off. He was correct in his assumption;it was an animal, but not the type with four legs. This animal had two legs and carried a razor.
The first house the terrorists went to was empty. They then went to the Fogel's house but there was a large group of children there. They waited until most of the children had left. Tamar, the family's daughter among them.
The terrorists entered the house through the living room window. They did not notice the 8-year-old boy, Roi, sleeping on the couch. They continued on to the bedroom where they slashed the throats of the father, Udi and his newborn baby, Hadas, who were sleeping there. Hadas when found by authorities was said to have been “almost completed decapitated”. The mother was stabbed in the chest and her throat cut as she came out of the bathroom. The evidence showed that she tried to fight off the terrorists.
They then slashed the throat of the 11-year old-son, Yoav, who was reading in bed. They did not notice the 2-year old asleep in his bed, but murdered the 3-year old with two stabs to his heart. After the killing spree, they exited through the window and escaped.
Two hours after the infiltration, there was another alarm from the same spot on the fence, as the terrorists left the way they had come. Once again, the IDF patrol did not identify the source of the signal as infiltration.
Tamar, the 12-year-old daughter, returned home at approximately 12:30 and found the door locked. She asked a neighbor, Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, for help getting in. Cohen brought his weapon with him not knowing what was happening. The two woke up the 8-year old, Roi, sleeping in the living room by yelling through the window and when he opened the door, the Rabbi returned to his home.
When Tamar entered the bedrooms she saw the horrific blood soaked scene and ran out of the house screaming. Cohen, hearing the screams ran back and fired several shots in the air to alert security personnel. Within moments, large police and IDF forces arrived and began an intensive search to see if the terrorists were still in the community. At 3:30 a.m., military trackers discovered the footprints leading to the Arab village of Avrata.
The Fogel’s neighbor Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, who discovered the bodies, said that the Fogel's 12-year-old daughter knocked on his door around 12:45 am Saturday. She said that no one opened the door at her home, and that there are muddy footprints at the entrance.
"I took my weapon and we went up to the back window of the house, where we saw one of the surviving children," Cohen said. "He was sitting in the center of the living room, where there was no sign of blood, only mud."
They then asked the boy to open the front door.
"The daughter went into one of the rooms, and saw the horror before I did," Cohen said. "I entered and saw that another boy survived a two-year-old. He was lying next to his bleeding parents, shaking them with his hands and trying to get them to wake them up, while crying."
Cohen, who was close to the family and worked with Udi Fogel, said that he took the boy in his arms and hugged him.
"The girl screamed and cried, and my daughter who arrived at the house tried to calm her down and hug her," he said. "We saw the bodies in the rooms. I scanned the house in order to see that there was no terrorist there, and waited for the security forces to arrive on the scene. The sight in the house was shocking."
The Jerusalem Post newspaper also quoted Rabbi Cohen from Israeli Army Radio,
Cohen told Army Radio that after a decade without similar events taking place, he did not think the attack was terrorist-related.
"At first I was ashamed to enter the family's home," he said. "We did not think it was a terrorist attack, but when the daughter entered and screamed in horror, I realized something terrible had happened. I prepared my weapon, fired two bullets into the air, I searched the house and found the remaining children, the seven-year-old boy who opened the door, and the two-year-old who was in the parents' room."
Fearing that the terrorist was still in the house, Cohen immediately took the children out and called for help.
The settlement's security forces and then the army came to the Fogel house at around 1:00 am. Cohen said it was not clear why the terrorists chose the Fogel home for the attack. "There is no reason for terrorists to have chosen this house, it is not closer to the [fence] than other houses," he told Army Radio.
While visiting the survivors of the Fogel Family, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked by Roi, the 8 year old,
“Will we overcome them (the terrorists)?”
“We are not fools; we know who we are dealing with.”
As Netanyahu continued his answer he was interrupted by Roi who asked,
“But if you do something, won’t America do something to you?”
Yes, an 8 year old wise beyond his years. He has just lost both his parents and 3 of his siblings and he is concerned about possible repercussions against Israel if Israel were to take a stand.
Netanyahu answered his question,
“They murder and we build. And, we build our land (country)”.
Last Saturday during an official speech on the matter Netanyahu stated,
"I expect the international community to explicitly condemn the murder; I noticed that several states which rushed to condemn Israel for building a house in some place are taking their time in condemning the murder of children. There is no justification for the murder of babies.”
Palestinian President Abbas said in English that the attack was a “despicable act” that was “inhuman and immoral.” But what is being said in Arabic? As explained in part by the website Indisputable,
We know that Abbas and the PA are not credible — and that their supporters in various governments and in the Western media are giving them a free pass — because of how they treat terrorism when it is not on the front pages of newspapers. The Israeli government is trying to get that message across by releasing an “incitement index,” a compilation of recent official Palestinian celebrations of terrorism.
From the incitement index, we learn that only a few days ago, one of Mahmoud Abbas’s senior advisers called for the naming of a square in an Arab town in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a leader of the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978, in which close to 40 Israeli civilians were burned alive in a hijacked bus; a few days before that, the PA’s official newspaper announced that a youth club in Ramallah would hold a soccer tournament in honor of Wafa Idris, a Fatah suicide bomber who used a Palestinian ambulance to enter Israel; and a few days before that, official PA television again celebrated Dalal Mughrabi as part of a “Women as Exemplars” program (over the summer, a number of children’s summer camps were also named after her); and a few days before that, the governor of Jenin awarded $2,000 to the family of a Fatah suicide bomber.
That is all merely in the past two months. The list goes on at nauseating length, documenting the incontrovertible fact that the Palestinian Authority is very much still in the terrorism game — and, it must be added, all while funded by the United States and European governments. The incitement index raises troubling questions: Isn’t it time for Congress to hold hearings on the use of U.S. funds by the Palestinian Authority to promote terrorism?
And so it goes, the so-called moderates are the same ones that have Barney and Mickey Mouse look-a-likes on Palestinian television teaching an entire generation to hate and kill Israelis and Jews.
Happy Purim, after all it commemorates when the Jewish people were saved from extermination.
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