Terrorism reared its ugly head once again in Jerusalem this week – and two families are mourning their loved ones as a result.
A gunman struck in three locations on Sunday, spraying bullets into people near Israel’s national police headquarters, then attacking a victim nearby, before heading to a Palestinian neighbourhood, where he attacked two police officers.
A witness to the last prong of the attack told The AJN that he saw and heard locals “cheering from the rooftops” after the police officers were hurt. He reported: “They were saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ and there was lots of whistling.”
The witness discussed feeling sickened by the expression of joy. “It made me feel horrible, this was a scene where people lost their lives and people were standing and cheering as if something great happened.”
Joy at the loss of Jewish life prompted some Jerusalem residents to distribute sweets on Sunday, and others to hang posters of the murderer or visit his home. The terrorist’s 14-year-old daughter made a video lauding him as a martyr and saying that she is “very happy and proud”. She was arrested as a result of the video.
A few hours after the attack a widow, a woman, stood at the graveside of her husband Yosef Kirma, a 29-year-old policeman. The attack, praised by Hamas as “heroic”, meant that her married life lasted for a total of just five months.
Noy Kirma was surrounded by her husband’s police colleagues in blue shirts and hats, as she tried to deliver a eulogy at Israel’s national cemetery, Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. But the -devastation was too great for her to speak clearly, and she was overcome by tears every few words. She had struggled to write a tribute, she admitted, because her heart is “shattered into pieces”.
When she got to the end of her notes, and declared her undying love for her husband, she looked bewildered, and a police employee gently moved her away from the podium so that the funeral could continue. The other tributes were just as tragic, including his mother Orit Jacoby asking to be woken from her “nightmare” and saying what a “role model” her son was as a family man.
The emotion was heightened by the fact that Yosef Kirma had, in the line of duty, prevented other families from facing the tragedy that his loved ones were confronting. He stopped an attacker from carrying out a terror attack in December, when he searched a Palestinian man who was acting suspiciously. The man was carrying a knife and later admitted that he planned to use it to attack.
The other victim buried this week was Levanah Malichi, a 60-year-old mother and grandmother who worked in the Knesset cafeteria until her retirement in 2010. Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Knesset, gave a eulogy at her funeral, remembering her as a “warm, loving woman who was dedicated to her colleagues”. He said: “You were slaughtered today just for being Jewish, for being Israeli,” and called the murder an -“atrocity”.
The terrorist, a Jerusalem Arab who was about to start a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer, first struck at a tram stop by the police headquarters. “I arrived at the scene and there were people yelling, speaking, and a big mess,” paramedic Aron Adler told The AJN. “We found a 60-year-old victim who was on the ground unconscious, started treating her, and as she was being taken to intensive care we received an update.”
The woman was Malichi and those were the last moments of her life. An innocent Israeli who was waiting for a tram, she died shortly after being -evacuated.
The update on Adler’s radio instructed him to go to the Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where the terrorist had arrived, after attacking another victim on the way. There, he fired at officers – fatally in the case of Kirma, who died shortly afterwards. Other officers managed to eventually shoot and kill the terrorist.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the attack was “high quality” and called for an “escalation” of violence. The terrorist, whose name is under gag order, was in prison for most of last year for incitement.
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency revealed shortly after the attack that it had interviewed the terrorist the previous day, and that he was planning on reporting to prison to begin his new sentence at precisely the time that he carried out the attack. Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that there were no warnings that such an attack could be in the offing. However, there are suspicions that the attack was more organised than the average “lone wolf” attack, and Hamas is claiming the perpetrator as one of its members.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin appealed for unity, and said: “We must not give terrorism the power to weaken us, and we must stand firm together.”