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Joined by Tragedy: The Fogel and Salomon Families

July 25, 2017 | by Israel Hayom and Chaim Fogel and

The author’s son Udi, daughter-in-law Ruth and three of his grandchildren were murdered by terrorists in Itamar in March 2011.

Two tragedies, intertwined, and no amount of condolences will suffice. It is extremely hard to contain and describe the pain that sears the heart.

Another precious, innocent family has fallen victim to terrorism, the Salomon family. On Friday night, Tova Salomon came to pick up the chickpea dish my wife had prepared for the festive dinner they were having that night, celebrating the birth of their new grandson. As she departed, my wife said, "Mazel tov." After the prayer services that day, I wished her husband Yossi the same, and we went our separate ways – for the last time.

On Saturday morning, after prayer, we gathered to grieve together. There are benefits to being surrounded by people. Six years ago, the same residents were informed about my tragedy – when terrorists killed five members of my family in Itamar in March 2011. Last Saturday, I was among those receiving the awful news about another family. The two tragedies are merged into one. We feel that people are trying, in vain, to find words of comfort.

Yossi, his daughter Chaya and his son Elad sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to settle the land. There was a time when they would have been described as the victims for peace; I call them the victims of the ongoing incitement led by the Palestinian authority.

Members of the Fogel family killed on March 11, 2011 in Itamar.

This incitement has only one goal: to fan hostilities and make sure the lowly terrorists decide to infiltrate a Jewish community and commit murder. The murderer knows there are two options: If he is killed, he will get the all-important title of martyr. If he is lucky to stay alive, he will live a comfortable life in an Israeli prison.

Regardless, his family will receive financial support from the evil Palestinian Authority, while the bereaved Salomon family copes with their loss.

So many empty promises have been made about cutting the payments to Palestinian terrorists' families. So many words have been spoken on the need to use capital punishment. Whenever tragedy strikes, this rhetoric resurfaces, only to disappear shortly thereafter. Israeli leaders should stop deliberating, and start deciding; it is time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

As soon as Shabbat ended, we were flooded by calls from family and friends, and from every news outlet. Since Saturday, everyone wants to know how we are feeling, sharing their thoughts about the similarities between the two horrific events, the one my family experienced six years ago in Itamar and the one in Halamish last week. People are talking about the latest victims in a way that is very similar to what we heard from people mourning our son Udi after he was murdered.

Unfortunately, we know all too well what Tova and her family are going through and what they will experience in the days and years ahead. They will have to face evil in court, and navigate a new life. As a bereaved family, we have a constant battle between the need to manage our grief and the desire to move on and lead a normal life; we have somehow managed to cope with the help of family, friends and community.

We have lived in Halamish for the past 40 years. We stayed there through thick and thin, with religious conviction and a strong belief that God has tasked us with settling the land. The stamina showed by the community makes us strong too. We chose to live here, and we will continue to live here without fear, because "the land is an exceeding good land" (Numbers 14:7).

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