Evil is all about us and we dare not ignore it.
Please read to the end for another instance of evil. But here I want to begin with a statement by Yoav Sorek, whose son Dvir was murdered last week in a terror attack: “I hope it is as I imagine it, that he was attacked from behind and didn’t manage to see the face of the evil and went up to Heaven in purity.”
Dvir Sorek, just short of 19 years old, was a student at the Machanaim hesder yeshiva right outside of Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion. A hesder yeshiva combines religious study with a period of military service. Dvir was still in the study portion of the program, but you may have seen reference to him as a soldier because students are technically in the army from the beginning of the time of study.
He had gone into Jerusalem on Wednesday to buy books for his teachers on behalf of the class, as it was the end of the school year. He was knifed on the way back and his body was discovered outside of Migdal Oz at 3 AM on Thursday.
Police said this was not a botched kidnapping – the intent was murder. Tire marks were found near Dvir’s body showing a U-turn; it was concluded that either the terrorists drove up near him, jumped out of the car to knife him, and then drove away in the direction from which they had come, or had knifed him at a different locale and then used the car to transport him to where he was found.
Dvir was praised by those who knew him as a loving and gentle soul who cared for those about him, and for nature. One story I discovered related how he had observed an Arab working a sick donkey and bought the donkey so he could treat him and bring him back to health.
“He would attach himself to the weak around him who might need a friend,” said his father. “Whoever did not know our Dvir missed out.”
The heart of the nation went out to the Sorek family in the face of this tragedy. Thousands attended his funeral on Thursday night in Ofra, Dvir’s home town.
In his eulogy, Yoav Sorek, who is a well-known journalist formerly with Makor Rishon, said:
“We received a gift for 19 years which shed light and goodness on our family and on others outside, without pretense and without cynicism.
“For this gift I said, and I say again: The Lord gave, and the Lord took, May the Lord be blessed.
“The Lord took and we won’t know how we will have the strength to continue. But continue we will, with love and doing good, and we will continue to add goodness and light in spite of the pain, having been chosen to live and to continue to spread light. May your soul be bound up with the bundle of life.”
Once again, I am awed by the lack of bitterness, the embrace of life, expressed by a deeply grieving father.
And this was not even the first time the Sorek family had been hit by terrorism:
Dvir’s maternal grandfather, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, was shot dead in a terror attack in 2000. The rabbi, a Holocaust survivor, was part of a group of 19 Israeli hikers headed for Mount Ebal near Nablus, with four IDF soldiers accompanying them, when Fatah terrorists opened fire on them.
Earlier still, there was the tragedy of Dvir’s great-uncle Shaya Deutsch, who was a greenhouse farmer in Gush Katif and employed local Arabs. In 1993, his workers called him into his greenhouse, where they brutally stabbed him to death.
During Dvir’s funeral, fireworks of celebration could be heard in nearby Arab villages, while masked students at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah handed out candy to passers-by in celebration.
The fact that none of this is new makes it no less despicable. People must be aware of this behavior.
By Saturday, after a massive manhunt by police, IDF and Shin Bet security forces, the perpetrators of the murder of Dvir were in custody. There had been considerable concern about catching them quickly because there was reason to believe they had outside help (read Hamas help) and were planning to attack again. In recent months the Shin Bet has been warning about increased efforts by Hamas in Gaza to recruit in Judea and Samaria in order to perpetrate terror attacks.
The focus of the search was Arab villages near the scene of the murder. On Friday, a car – believed to be the one utilized in the attack – was impounded in the village of Beit Fajjar and its owner arrested.
In the early hours of Saturday, the presumed terrorists were located in the Arab village of Beit Kahil, not far from Hevron; the two are cousins and one has Hamas connections. A couple of their relatives were also arrested.
I concur with Yovek Sorek who welcomed the news of their capture but regretted that they were taken alive.
During the arrest, some 100 villagers began throwing stones at the soldiers, so that riot control procedures had to be implemented. This, too, is fairly typical but must be noted: These villagers support and shield the terrorists, viewing the IDF as the enemy.
Also before dawn on Saturday, a major terror attack in Israel was averted when the IDF spotted four Gazans attempting to infiltrate into Israel, armed with AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, hunting knives and bolt cutters. They were also carrying energy bars and dates, suggesting that they intended a prolonged stay [on Israeli soil].
They were spotted running along the Gaza side of the fence in military formation, coming from the direction of Khan Younis. The first one to scale the fence was shot dead, followed by the other three.
After the murder of Dvir Sorek, there were calls from several quarters for application of sovereignty over Gush Etzion in response. I am one of those who believe the calls for sovereignty should not be motivated by terror attacks – as “revenge” – but because we have a right to the land. Period.
And I want to conclude this posting with an issue of sovereignty of serious dimensions – with regard to Har Habayit, the Temple Mount:
Today, as I write, it is still Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning for the destruction of the Temples; many Jews want to go up on the Mount at this time, as it was the site of the two Temples.
It happens that today is also the Muslim holiday of Eid ad-Adha, which according to Islam marks the sacrifice of Yishmael as well as the end of the hajj pilgrimage period. Routinely, only Muslims are permitted on the Mount during this holiday, but here was a conflict of interests and rights.
The Israeli police have final say as to who goes up, and make their decisions according to security concerns. They initially decided to allow only Muslims on the Mount because of the huge crowds numbering tens of thousands that would be there.
My understanding, however, is that while the prime minister does not decide, representatives from the police, Shin Bet security service and Public Security Ministry last week had presented the prime minister with their recommendation for Tisha B’Av and Eid al-Adha; thus Netanyahu, aware of the decision, would have tacitly approved: he had the authority to override the police.
In the face of considerable Jewish protest, the police re-evaluated the situation and decided to permit small numbers of Jews at a time to go up to the Mount for brief periods. Observe that the number of Jewish visitors and length of visits is restricted while the visits of Muslims are unrestricted.
Once non-Muslims, primarily Jews, were permitted on the Mount, the Muslims began to riot, clashing with Israeli police and throwing objects at the Jewish visitors. The police used riot control techniques, but escorted the Jewish visitors off the Mount quickly.
Over the course of the day, there were alternating periods during which Jews were permitted on the Mount, and then blocked by the police from going up. In the end, the number of Jews to go up was 1,729, up from 1,440 last year. This is supposed to be a victory, but I do not see it as such. Although I concede that it could have been worse, and Jews might have been banned altogether in the name of security (see more below on a very commendable police action), there is a great deal more work to be done.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised the police for their work and said he would continue to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and protect Jewish visitation rights.
The problem we face is reflected in the terribly worrisome comment made by Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi in a radio interview that “the police found the balance point between Muslims and Jews and acted correctly.”
Oi vey! Tens of thousands of Muslims and a handful of Jews is the “balance point” to avoid Muslim violence?? I say send in an IDF battalion if necessary.
Former MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, in my opinion has it exactly right (emphasis added):
“The basic concept of Jews going up to the Temple Mount must change. As long as Jews are considered visitors to the mountain and not the owners, we will continue to see pictures of hundreds of Jews – men and women – who have come from all over the country, waiting for hours in front of the entrance to the mountain that is closed to them.
“We must not show weakness or cowardice in the face of Islamic terrorism on the mount…We must show determination and power that result from the inextricable link between the people of Israel and the Temple Mount…”
Please consider these Muslim actions:
This past week, in the face of news that Israeli police were evaluating the possibility of allowing Jews on the Mount today, the Islamic Wakf was determined to increase the number of Muslim worshippers on the Mount:
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein, former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ekrima Sabri and senior Waqf official Abdel Azeem Sahlab announced that “all mosques in Jerusalem will be closed and that blessed Eid al-Adha prayers will take place in the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque (i.e., on the Mount).
“The people of Jerusalem and its surroundings will stand together in the face of the ambitions of the settlers.”
In response to complaints that Israel was upsetting the “status quo” on the Mount, Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Yedid declared,
“From the day I first came to know this place, the [Muslim] holiday morning prayer begins at 6:30 AM. Miraculously they changed the prayer to 7:30 in the morning. Isn’t that a change in the status quo?
“When we realized that everything was heading to the prevention of Jewish ascension by a handful of people, we used force, dispersed them and allowed the Jews to ascend.” (Emphasis added)
For this Commander Yedid is to be commended.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi made the following statement:
“We condemn Israel’s violations at the al-Aqsa mosque. The actions of the occupation authorities will only fuel the conflict and make the situation more explosive. We call on the international community to take responsibility and pressure Israel to stop its violations.”