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As Israel commemorates Memorial Day, it is important to remember all 34 people who were killed and the 447 others that were injured in this present wave of terror known as the Knife Intifada. In honor of Yom HaZikron, JerusalemOnline shared some of stories behind the fatality statistics.
The late Dafna Meir Photo Credit: Channel 2 News
As Israel commemorates Memorial Day, it is important to remember all 34 people who were killed and the 447 others that were injured in this present wave of terror known as the Knife Intifada that has been ongoing since September 2015. Under the battle cry “Al Aqsa is in danger,” Palestinian terrorists have killed and maimed innocent Israeli civilians for no other reason than the fact that they are Jewish or think that they are Jewish or were opposed to their wanton violence and destruction. On this important day, it is critical to remember that each one of these men, women and children who have fallen victim to the present wave of terror has a name, has a family, has friends, and has a story that deserves to be told. In honor of the occasion, JerusalemOnline will tell the stories of some of them.
On September 13, 2015, which was Rosh Hashanah evening, Alexander Levlovich, age 64, was killed on his way home from having a Rosh Hashanah dinner after Palestinian terrorists threw rocks at his car. Levlovich was a manger of a residence for disabled people in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood. Shimon Zurieli, the director of Ilan, the Israeli Foundation for Handicapped Children, stated: “He was a man of gold with a heart of gold.” Levloch is survived by his three daughters and one son as well as his partner Iris and his grandchildren. Two other passengers were wounded in the same stone-throwing incident.
On October 1, 2015, Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Naama were murdered in a drive-by shooting in Samaria while traveling in their car with their four young children, age 9, 7, 4, and 9 months. Rabbi Eitam Henkin was the son of Rabbi Yehuda and Chana Henkin, who moved to Israel from the United States in the 1970’s. Chana runs the Nishmat Institute, which was one of the first institutions to teach women the Talmud and Jewish law. Rabbi Eitam Henkin, who was also a historian, lectured at his mother’s school and was working on his doctorate.
On October 3, 2015, Rabbi Aharon Bennett, a member of the Breslov Hassidic community and IDF soldier, was stabbed to death while on his way to the Western Wall together with his wife and two children. His wife Adelle was critically injured and his two-year-old son was also wounded in the terror attack. His infant daughter managed to survive the terror attack unharmed. Rabbi Nehemia Levi, an Old City resident and IDF reserve officer, who tried to assist the Bennett family, was also stabbed to death in the same terror attack. According to his friends, Rabbi Levi “devotedly studied and taught Torah most of his life. He was a pure heart, a man full of life and joy, simplicity and humility. He treated everyone with honor just to be able to help and give.”
On October 4, 2015, 15-year-old Moshe Malka was stabbed while on his way to praying at the Western Wall. He was moderately injured and received treatment at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. On October 7, 2015, there were three terror attacks in one day. One man was wounded in a stabbing attack in Petach Tikva. An 18-year-old Palestinian female terrorist stabbed a 36-year-old Jewish man at the Lion’s Gate in the Old City, moderately wounding him. And in Kiryat Gat, a terrorist stole a gun from an IDF soldier and tried to harm a woman but she managed to fight him off.
The day afterwards, on October 8, 2015, there were four terror attacks within a day. A female soldier and three others were stabbed in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem, a 25-year-old Yeshiva student and another man were slightly injured in a stabbing attack near the city’s Light Rail Station. In Hebron, a man was seriously injured in a stabbing attack. And in Afula, a soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack. The day afterwards, a 16-year-old Jewish boy was beaten, stabbed and injured in Jerusalem and a Police officer was stabbed in Hebron.
On October 12, 2015, a Border Policeman was stabbed and slightly injured by a 16-year-old female terrorist in Jerusalem. Within the same city, two teenage terrorists stabbed and seriously wounded a 25-year-old man and a 13-year-old boy that was riding his bicycle. The 13-year-old boy was stabbed multiple times by terrorists who were around his age. The 13-year-old boy was taken to the hospital in a life-threatening condition, where he was placed in an induced coma and connected to a respirator. While he eventually managed to recover, the hospital stated that he arrived at the hospital on the verge of death.
The day afterwards, on October 13, 2015, two terrorists boarded a bus in the East Talpiot neighborhood in Jerusalem, one armed with a knife and the other one armed with a gun. Haim Haviv, age 78, and Alon Govberg, age 51, were killed in the terror attack. Haim Aviv emigrated from Iraq to Jerusalem at age 11 with his parents and 10 siblings. He was a construction worker for many years until an accident forced him to change his profession and to become a silversmith. His son Yoram related: “He grew up in a generation that lived beside Arabs and knew them well, a generation that could have created peace. Growing up, we did not have money but we felt rich and lived full lives. He raised five children and installed in us the values of family and hard work. If he were here, he would ask for only one thing: peace.” Alon Govberg was born in Azerbaijan and immigrated to Israel 20 years ago without any close relatives being nearby him. He was employed as a security guard.
15 other people were wounded in the same terror attack. Some of them were critically injured. Israeli American peace activist Richard Lankin, who was critically injured in the terror attack, succumbed to his wounds and died later on that month. Lankin had marched for civil rights together with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a Freedom Rider in the 1960’s and worked for the desegregation of the American South. After making Aliyah to Israel, he was a strong advocate for peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews. He taught English to mixed classes of Arabs and Jews and was the author of the book “Teaching as an act of love.” His son Micah Avni stated: “He was a big believer in people and in peace and in being kind and he never hurt a soul in his life.”
On October 18, 2015, Sergeant Omri Levy was killed and 10 others were wounded when a terrorist entered into the Central Bus Station in Beersheba. Sergeant Omri Levy was a member of the famous Golani Brigade and was on his way to deal with disturbances in Nahal Oz when he was killed. Omri’s father had passed away several years ago due to a heart attack and Omri was the main supporter of his family since that period of time. He is survived by his mother, twin brother and sister. An Eritrean asylum seeker who was mistaken for being a second terrorist was also killed in the same terror attack.
On October 20, 2015, Avraham Hasno, age 54, was run over by a truck after Palestinian terrorists pelted his vehicle with stones. Hasno was on his way home from work. In Otniel, he was in charge of a Yeshiva high school kitchen. Residents of Kiryat Arba described Hasno as a G-d fearing social activist that was loved by all: “He led Torah classes throughout the year and especially during the summer and holidays, all free of charge and on a voluntary basis.”
On October 28, 2015, an 18-year-old Yeshiva student was moderately injured in a Beit Shemesh terror attack. The victim sustained moderate injuries and was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem. Two terrorists in the area had tried to board a school bus in order to attack Israeli school children but fortunately, this action was thwarted. This is what led to the attack upon the 18-year-old Yeshiva student.
On November 2, 2015, a 71-year-old man was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Netanya. On that same day in Rishon LeTzion, three people were wounded, two of them critically, among them an 80-year-old woman, in a stabbing attack at a bus station within the city. Three days later, three Border Policemen were wounded in a hit and run terror attack north of Hebron. One of the Border Policemen 19-year-old Sergeant Benjamin Yakubovich, who was critically injured in that terror attack, died of his wounds on November 8, 2015. According to a friend of the family: “He was raised on the value of giving and helping others under any circumstances. He was an amazing boy. He had many goals and plans for the future and now they were all cut short.” Two days later, an Israeli was injured in a terror attack outside a supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin and two teenagers, age 16 and 18, were wounded in a terror attack near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
On November 13, 2015, Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his son Netanel, age 18, were killed in a terror attack near Otniel. They were killed while traveling to a celebration ahead of the wedding of his daughter Sarah together with the Rabbi’s wife and six other children. Rabbi Litman was a first grade teacher in Kiryat Arba as well as at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva High School. Malakhi Levinger, the head of the Kiryat Arba Regional Council, stated: “He was one of the most dedicated teachers in our city.”
On November 19, 2016, there was a bloody terror attack in Tel Aviv and in Gush Etzion. In Tel Aviv, two people were killed during afternoon prayers in a Judaica shop located in the Panorama building. The victims were Rabbi Aharon Yeseyev and Reuven Aviram. Rabbi Aharon Yeseyev used to come to the Panorama building so that they could have a minyan of 10 people in order to conduct afternoon prayers. It was at this time he was killed. He left behind a wife and five children. The oldest daughter is in the first grade and the youngest child is just four months old. Reuven Aviram was born in Uzbekistan and immigrated to Israel in 1990. He worked as a jeweler. According to his son Uriel, “Dad was the anchor of the family, a happy man, endlessly giving, and a man of letters with wide knowledge.”
In Gush Etzion on the same day, three people were killed when a terrorist opened fire during a traffic jam at the Alon Shvut Junction. The victims were 18-year-old Ezra Shwartz, 49-year-old Yaakov Don, and 40-year-old Shadi Arafa. Ezra Shwartz, a US citizen and yeshiva student in Beit Shemesh, came to Israel for a gap year and had planned to start at Rutgers University the following year. Ezra’s uncle Yoav, who lives in Ra’anana, described a teenager who loved sports and had a sense of humor that attracted everyone to him. His friends and family described him as a young man with boundless energy, who was capable of making friends with anyone. Ya’akov Don was the son of Holocaust survivors and was a professor of economics at Bar Ilan University. He also taught at a high school in Efrat. Colleagues described him as a wonderful teacher. Both he and his wife spent several years in Toronto, Canada as teaching emissaries. Shadi Arafa was a Palestinian cellphone operator who was on his way home from work.
On November 22, 2015, 21-year-old Hadar Bruchis was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist while waiting for a ride to the Zohar College for Women in Bat Ayin. Originally from Netanya, Bruchis majored in theater in high school and spent two years doing her national service working with children and youth. When she finished her national service, she went to India for six months. When she returned, she enrolled in a college for Torah studies. Hadar’s theater teacher related: “She was a charming girl, radiant and friendly.”
On December 14, 2015, 14 people were injured in a hit and run terror attack at the entrance to Jerusalem. The injured included a 15-month-old baby, who was seriously injured, and the baby’s mother. Two others were moderately injured, among them a woman in her 70’s. On December 19, 2015, a terrorist stabbed three people in Ra’anana on a Shabbat afternoon. The terrorist also attempted to enter into a synagogue and a home before being apprehended by the Police.
On December 23, 2015, Rabbi Reuven Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari were stabbed to death by Palestinian terrorists outside the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. Rabbi Reuven Birmajer made Aliyah from Argentina together with his family and joined the Esh Torah Yeshiva two years ago, where he taught in the Spanish department to students from South America. He was the brother of the well-known Argentine author Marcelo Birmajer: “He was a man full of life and joy.” He is survived by his wife and seven children. The youngest child is age 2. Ofer Ben Ari had fought against the terrorist with his bare hands and was described as a hero by his daughter. He owned a recording studio in Jerusalem and for years had it open for distressed youth free of charge. He also provided temporary housing for the homeless. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
On New Year’s Day, there was a terror attack in a Tel Aviv pub. 26-year-old Alon Bakal and 30-year-old Shimon Ruimi were murdered. Bakal was a fourth-year law student who had already started interning for a Tel Aviv law firm. Alon was described by friends as idealistic and committed to helping everyone. Shimon Ruimi was a civilian employee of the IDF. He was killed while coming to Tel Aviv for the weekend in order to celebrate a friends’ birthday. 8 others were wounded in the terror attack. Two of them were critically injured. On that same day, Arab taxi driver Amin Shaaban was murdered by the same terrorist for he threatened to turn him into the Police.
On January 17, 2016, 38-year-old Dafna Meir, a mother of six, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist outside her home in Otniel. Dafna worked as a nurse in the Beersheba Medical Center. Her co-worker Dr. Ahmed Nasser stressed that she always helped everyone, whether they were Jewish or Arab and had told him that she was studying Arabic, claiming: “We are neighbors and should speak the same language.” Dafna was also a premarital councilor for young brides. Dafna was raised in foster care. After she got married, she wanted to provide for children who had a similar background as her. While she had four children biologically, she adopted two foster boys: “She was a happy woman, joyful, optimistic, driven, responsible and loving.” The day after Dafna Meir was murdered, a 30-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed and moderately injured by a Palestinian terrorist in Tekoa.
On January 25, 2016, two terrorists infiltrated the Beit Horon community and stabbed two women. 24-year-old Shlomit Krugman would die of her wounds the next morning. Shlomit was known and well-liked in Beit Horon, where she had performed her National Service as a group leader for the Bnei Akiva Youth Group. She was there spending time with her grandparents when she was killed. She is survived by her parents and six siblings. The terrorists sought also to attack a store utilizing explosives and knives but the cashier blocked their entry with a shopping cart. Thus, a greater disaster was averted.
On March 8, 2016, 29-year-old American student Taylor Force was killed and 10 others were injured in a terror attack that began at the Jaffa Port and continued throughout the Tel Aviv Promenade. Force was a graduate of the prestigious West Point Academy. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the US Army. After completing his service, he signed up for the Vanderbilt MBA Program. Taylor was visiting Israel as part of his studies in order to learn about Israeli start-up companies.
On April 19, 2016, a bus explosion in Jerusalem led to the injury of 21 people. Two of them were seriously injured. Remarkably, no one was killed even though the explosion was caused by a bomb. One of the victims was 16-year-old Eden Levy, who suffered from burns all over her body. Hundreds of Israelis raised money so that she could have a computer to continue studying while she was recovering from the terror attack inside the hospital.
These were only a select sample of some of the terror victims of some of the attacks that have occurred since the beginning of the Knife Intifada. In reality, the list is much longer than this. In the media, often the victims of these terror attacks are relegated to being mere statistics but on Memorial Day, it is critical to remember that these terror victims are human beings whose lives were cut prematurely short by Palestinian terrorists full of hatred who sought to murder innocent people after being indoctrinated with hateful incitement by their own leadership. In some instances, Palestinians and Arabs are also killed either because the terrorist thought they were Jewish or because they decided to take a stand against terrorism. Thus, on this very important day, let us remember the common humanity of all of the terror victims, whether they are Jewish, Arab or foreign citizens.