Today I am 34 years old, exactly my mother’s age at the time of the attack. From now on she will forever be younger than me.
“You know the story of my family. In 1987 a terrorist threw a firebomb at the car my family was travelling in. He murdered my mother and my brother Tal, and injured my father, my brother, his friend and myself. It is a story you know. But… Me, you do not really know. I was 8 years old when this happened.While my father was rolling me in the sand to extinguish my burning body, I looked in the direction of our car and watched as my mother burned in front of my eyes.
This story did not end that day in 1987. This story is the difficult life I have led since then. I am still 8 years old, hospitalized in critical condition. Screaming from pain. Bandaged from head to toe. And my head is not the same. No longer full of golden long hair. The head is burnt. The face, back, the legs and arms, burnt. I am surrounded by family members, but my mother is not with me. Not hugging and caressing. She is not the one changing my bandages.
In the room next door, my brother Tal in lying. Screaming in pain. I call out to him to count sheep with me so he can fall asleep. Three months later, little Tal dies of his wounds. I am seated, all bandaged up, on a chair in the cemetery and I watch as my little brother is buried.
For many months I am forbidden to be out in the sun because of the burns, so I wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to school. In July and August as well. And under the clothes I yet wear a pressure suit meant to [prevent hypertrophic] scarring. It is painful and hot and itchy. Here I am at 12 years old, entering another operation to correct a scar that limited movement in my leg. And then I am celebrating my Bat Mitzvah. And my mother is not at the celebration. So I cry quietly at night and write to her.
I grow older. I don’t like that people in the street stare at me, don’t like it when the cashier at the supermarket asks – “Oh, child, what happened to you?” I don’t like it that every such look and every such question make me run and cry.I reach the age of 14 and still live in Alfei Menashe. I have a father, an older brother and friends, I am a good pupil. But I also have unbearable scars. I do not have a mother. So I lay in the road and say to myself that if a car comes, whatever happens, happens. But it doesn’t happen. So I pick myself up and return home.
All those years of adolescence, my friends preferred activity is to go to the beach. But I don’t go because I have scars. Because I am burnt. And I am ashamed. Then I am 18 and want to enlist but I am not drafted. The army refuses to take responsibility for my scars. So I volunteer in the military and serve for a year and a half. After the army I study for my bachelors degree. At college I meet new people who, of course, ask me what happened to me. I respond “terror attack”. And they always answer “wow, really? I thought hot water spilled on you when you were little.” And the clothes? The shirts with the long sleeves were replaced with short sleeves but no tee-shirt, not at all, because I have an ugly scar under the left shoulder. Absolutely no short skirts or pants – because I have ugly scars on the legs.
Today I am 34 years old, exactly my mother’s age at the time of the attack. From now on she will forever be younger than me. And still, at least four times a week I answer questions about what happened to me. And sometimes I wonder whether that guy is not interested in me because of the scars. And I always have to explain my scars and tell where they are exactly before I expose myself to a man.
I am 34 years old but the last few days I have returned to being that 8-year-old facing that burning car and waiting for her mother to come out of it. Yitzhak Rabin, who was Minister of Defense at the time of the attack, promised my dad that they will catch the terrorist. And they did. And they sentenced him. To two life sentences and another 72 years in prison.
And you cabinet ministers? With the wave of a hand you decided to free him. He who caused all of this story. And you will not convince me that you understand my pain because you don’t. And no explanations that claim to be rational will help. You are heartless beings and abstruse. With your decision to release the murderer you spit on the graves of my mother and my brother Tal. You erase this story from the pages of the History of the State of Israel. And in return for what?I beg you to remove him from the list of those to be released. Leave him in jail. That he rot as he should rot.
Don’t light again the fire that he lit. Don’t destroy those who are left in this family. Save us. Because if he is released – my father, brother and I will no longer be able to live.”