Kibbutz Metzer is situated towards the north of Israel, six miles east of Hadera. Just across the border lies the Palestinian town of Jenin. Metzer was founded in 1953 by youth activists who immigrated from Argentina and has always been at the left, or dovish end of the Israeli political spectrum.
Metzer is inside the Green Line, Israel's pre-1967 border. Yet its nearest Arab neighbors live very close by. In fact the borders of Israel are so narrow at that point that Metzer is surrounded by Arab villages. With one of them (Meisr) it even shares a well and a soccer team.
Metzer has had close relations with a number of these Arab villages. As one resident of nearby Kafin told a reporter: "When the border police who patrol this area catch us coming across from Kafin, they let us continue on our way when we tell them that we are going to visit our friends on the kibbutz."
When it was learned not too long ago that the Israeli government planned to confiscate some of Kafin's olive groves to make room for the anti-terrorism security fence, the residents of Metzer protested. The consensus was unanimous. They wrote a letter to the Minister of Defense asking that the fence be built strictly along the Green Line and not straight through Kafin's farmland - even if that meant having to use land from Metzer.
One Sunday night in Metzer, November 10, 2002, Revital Ohayon was reading a bedtime story to her two young sons Matan and Noam, five and four years old. After she had finished and had put them to bed, a Palestinian gunman fired two shots into the front door, kicked it open, then broke into the children's bedroom. The mother jumped in front of her two children in an effort to save them. He shot the three of them to death.
He went outside, shot two more people (both of whom died) and then he escaped.
The Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, a branch of Arafat's Fatah organization, claimed responsibility for the murders.
Meanwhile Hamas and Fatah negotiators had been meeting in Cairo to coordinate their efforts. Hamas praised the attack as a "legitimate resistance operation" and urged Fatah to keep intensifying the violence. Hamas representatives also called Metzer a "settlement that was built on Arab land usurped by the Zionist enemy in 1948," once again affirming that their sole intention is not peaceful coexistence but the destruction of Israel. They also proclaimed their resolve to continue attacking Israeli civilians both inside and outside the Green Line.
The Tuesday following the attack Avi Ohayon buried his family. In his eulogy he told the three thousand mourners present:
Last Friday I came to pick up my children. We played in their yard and they found a lizard. Matani, my darling, was afraid of the lizard, and Noam, my soul, was not afraid and played with the lizard with the neighbor. They played with the lizard, and the lizard, as lizards do, left its tail and ran away. It left them just with the tail.
They were fascinated by what happened. They ran to their mother, who knows everything and gives them answers right away, and asked about the tail that stayed in their dish and kept moving, while the lizard disappeared.
So she explained to them that lizards have this talent, that when you catch their tails they cut them off, run away, and grow a new tail. And now you went and left me, your tail, because I always was your tail, and I cannot grow a new life, and my heart and my head and my eyes, everything was cut off in the part that I lost.
Revital's cousin Iris also shared a few words:
Matan and Noam were always in your arms - even at the last moment. I'm sure you are the most beautiful angels in heaven.
The Arabs of neighboring Meisr shared the family's grief. They too lost something on that day.
When leaders of militant factions meet to maximize the efficiency of terrorism and no one comments, when neither peace offers nor self-defense make an impact against terrorism, one wonders where the answer lies.
Can we expect to find it in the heart of a world that too easily accepts excuses for terror?
All of the information for this report came from the following articles appearing in the Jerusalem Post for 2002:
Gibson, Eetta Prince. Making right of way. October 4.
Abu Toameh, Khaled. Hamas to Fatah: Let's join forces. November 12.
Ben-Tal, Daniel. Metzer and Meiser residents determined to remain good neighbors. November 12.
Editorial: Cairo's terror summit. November 12.
Gutman, Matthew. Kibbutz's belief in co-existence hindered security fence. November 12.
Rudge, David. Terrorist kills 5 including mother, two young sons. November 12.
Ben-Tal, Daniel. "I'm sure you are the most beautiful angels in heaven." November 13.
Sappir, Shoshana, trans. A father's eulogy: Butterflies, pacifiers, and angels. November 13.
Peace with Realism