August 30, 2023
Sondra Oster Baras
On the Eve of the Jewish New Year in 2000, the Second Intifada began. Israel was then still in Gaza and the first shot fired was that of a Palestinian policeman who murdered the IDF soldier who was patrolling with him. What was supposed to be a relationship of trust between the PA and Israel to stop terrorism, quickly became war. For nearly three years, terrorism raged across Israel — in cities, on the roads of Judea and Samaria and in the communities themselves. For three years, every time we turned on the news, we braced ourselves to hear if someone had been killed that day. Suicide bombers were the most lethal weapon, often leaving as many as 20 dead on a single day.
In 2002, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield and over the following months, terrorism was gradually reduced. But when terrorism finally subsided substantially, in 2003, more than 1,100 Israelis had been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. It was a terrible time and it left its mark on all of Israel but especially on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Today, 20 years after the Second Intifada came to an end and 23 years after it began, I feel like we are in a déjà vu situation. Once again, we think twice before leaving our communities to travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria. Once again, each week brings stories of new murders, of innocent men, women and children who have been slaughtered by evil terrorists whose only mission is to murder Jews.
Since the start of the year, 35 people have been murdered in terror attacks in Israel, the highest number in an eight month period since the Second Intifada. Here are the numbers:
7 murdered in a shooting attack in Jerusalem
3 in a car ramming in Jerusalem
1 at the northern entrance to Jerusalem
4 in two shooting attacks in Hawara, Samaria
4 in two shooting attacks in the Jordan Valley
1 in a shooting attack in Tel Aviv
2 in two car ramming attacks in Tel Aviv
1 in a shooting attack in Hermesh, Samaria
5 soldiers in attacks from Gaza and Egypt
4 in a shooting attack near Eli, Samaria
1 in a shooting attack near Kedumim, Samaria
1 in a shooting attack in Benjamin
1 in a shooting attack near Bet Hagai, Judea
Let me tell you the story of the most recent attack, the murder of Batsheva Nigri from Bet Hagai. Bat Sheva had grown up in Efrat and moved with her husband to Bet Hagai several years ago. She loved children with all her heart — they were here greatest passion. For years, she and her husband struggled to have children of their own and when she finally got pregnant and gave birth to her only daughter, her joy knew no bounds. She raised her daughter with so much love, lavishing her with the sort of attention only an only child can enjoy. When Batsheva was murdered, she was on her way with her daughter to decorate the pre-school where she would be teaching come September, after which they planned on enjoying a mother-daughter afternoon in Jerusalem.
Batsheva was a pre-school teacher in Efrat, the community where she grew up and where her family still lives. She was beloved by everyone. Parents wept when they heard the tragic news. They recalled how Batsheva greeted every child, each morning, with a hug and a kind word. She wasn’t just a teacher. She loved every child she taught.
Batsheva and her husband sought every opportunity to love children and that included welcoming foster children into their home. At the time of her death, Batsheva was fostering three other children. Batsheva’s husband immediately committed to continuing to care for these needy children, desperate for the kind of love, Batsheva and her husband were so happy to give.
Batsheva and her 12-year old daughter left Bet Hagai with a neighbor, who had offered to give them a lift. Just outside the community, an Arab terrorist waited for a Jewish car to drive by. He waited with his semi-automatic weapon and just as the three drove by, he opened fire. Batsheva was killed immediately, her neighbor seriously wounded. Batsheva’s 12 year old daughter was miraculously saved. She was the one who phoned the ambulance, who reported that her mother would not wake up. Imagine — the brutal terrorist murdered Batsheva in front of her daughter.
Just two days earlier, a man and his young adult son from Ashdod were murdered in Hawara, an Arab village in Samaria, known for its violence. The two men had come to Hawara to get their car fixed. They believed in peaceful co-existence and the owner of the car repair shop was their friend. But what they didn’t take into account was the presence of Arab terrorists in Hawara bent on destroying any hope for peace.
The terrorists will never prevail. We continue to drive from community to community, living our lives as normally as possible while praying to G-d for protection. At the same time, we are more desperate than ever before for upgraded security installations. But we dare not be silent in the face of this growing evil in our midst. All good people everywhere must cry out in protest against these terrible actions and stand with Israel at this time of great need.