Israeli victim of a pre-Oslo prisoner: “If he is released, I will no longer be able to live”

Below is an op-ed that was published recently in Yediot Ahronot by Adi Moses, who was injured when she was 8 years old in a Palestinian terrorist attack in which her pregnant mother and 5-year-old brother were burned alive. (It was translated into English by Daniel Seaman, and originally posted by Tom Gross, who granted us permission to repost it here.) 

“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.

Adi and her brothers before the attack.

(From left to right: Tal, Nir and Adi Moses  several years before the attack.)

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.”

The terrorist responsible for the attack on the Moses family, Daoud Adal Hassan Mahmad (line 97), is among the pre-Oslo prisoners reportedly to be released as a pre-negotiation concession to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

13 replies »

  1. Heartbreaking. To me, the key line of this is “and for what?” I can’t imagine how I would feel in this family’s place, but I think I would feel less angry and betrayed if I knew that the release of my mother’s and little brother’s murderer was in exchange for something tangible – some step that might mean there might be no more Moses families who have to suffer like this.

    To see him released simply for the privilege of sitting in the same room as someone – well, that must burn.

  2. I was against the freeing of terrorists for any reason when doing so was still a possibility but I was still stricken with sadness, frustration, and outrage when I read this heartbreaking story and realized what freeing a murderer would mean to a survivor of a terrorist attack. Thank you for being willing to share your pain with strangers and I hope and pray that the rabid animal that destroyed your family stays in jail for the rest of his worthless life.

  3. This comment has been sitting on a guardian thread for almost 24 hours now….

    “What aren’t Jews outraged about? Talk about beating a dead horse. This ended almost 70 years ago and they speak like it happened yesterday. The Jews should stop doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the them, and then I’ll be sympathetic. Otherwise, it’s freedom of speech and Jews need to stop making everything about sad ole them.”


  4. This terrorist, Daoud Adal Hassan Mahmad, should have be sentenced to death (like Eichmann), then we would not have to witness this travesty of justice, this insult to the lost lives of our women and children… And now we set him free, In exchange for what? Peace? What peace? Our enemies do not want peace, we know it, the world leaders know it, yet we all pretend that this farce of peace talks is real? Why do we need to delude ourselves about a chance for peace which is nowhere on the horizon? Why are our “leaders” playing this cruel, pointless game? Are we scared to look at the truth? We can’t show mercy to those who despise it…. Our government has sold our honor, the honor of our victims, the honor of those burned, stabbed, beaten to death by our unrelenting un-repenting enemies in exchange for what exactly ?

    • I understand your anger, Gabriel, but strongly and as a matter of principle disagree with the suggestion that the death penalty is any part of the answer. I am proud and pleased to say that Israeli governments since the state’s rebirth have agreed (with the sole exception of Eichmann).

  5. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/will_my_daughter_killers_go_free_qC4iBBbZ30MhfK8iLUJZKI
    Will my daughter’s killers go free?
    July 31, 2013

    My stomach flipped when I heard the news this week that Israel is releasing more than 100 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, including many who’ve murdered civilians.

    My daughter Alisa was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 1995. Some of those terrorists or their co-conspirators were killed by Israeli security forces; some were arrested by the Palestinian Authority, then released soon afterward. Two have been in an Israeli prison since 1995, serving life sentences.

    Unlike the United States, Israel doesn’t have the death penalty for terrorists, but I thought these guys would be behind bars for, well, life — because Israel, our family was told, wouldn’t use terrorists as political bargaining chips. That was a “red line” that Israel would supposedly never cross.

    I’ve always accepted the fact that Israel would have to make hard decisions when it came time to negotiate a solution to 65 years of Arab hostility and warfare against the Jewish state. I understood this when an Israeli prime minister shook hands with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in 1993.

    And I didn’t complain to the Israeli government when, after Alisa was murdered by Islamic Jihad, some Israeli officials called her a “casualty of the peace” — when she was, in fact, murdered by Palestinian Arabs freely operating with the knowledge of the Palestinian Authority and some of her killers were roaming free under the noses of Arafat and his deputy — now Palestinian president— Mahmoud Abbas.

    But then Israel began to breach the red line on releasing terrorists. Small numbers of Palestinian terrorists — although not those directly involved in murders — were set free as “good-will gestures” to either revive a stagnant peace process or because Israel’s hand was forced because of some political or military blunder.

    Perhaps one could understand the logic of releasing prisoners to establish good will with the Palestinian public or to strengthen the Palestinian leadership. But it became clear to me, and (according to poll after poll) the Israeli public, that these efforts were not met with any reciprocity from the other side.

    Terrorists are idolized by the Palestinian people; their leaders name parks, stadiums and athletic events after mass murderers.

    As a result, I thought that by now Israel would have learned the first lesson of negotiating: Never negotiate with yourself.

    I appear to be wrong, because, apparently at the behest of Secretary of State John Kerry, over 100 terrorists are going free, including many directly involved in multiple murders — as a good-will measure to “bolster” Abbas and to give Kerry something to say he accomplished after racking up so many frequent-flyer miles traveling to the Middle East.

    What will Israel get in return? From all news accounts, it appears the answer is nothing more than the Palestinians returning to the negotiating table.

    So I ask Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Will my daughter’s murderers, now in an Israeli prison, be released for the sake of good will? Can you show me anything concrete that will come from this action that will allow my son and his family, citizens of Israel, to sleep safely in their home in Jerusalem?

    Show me something that will allow me to go to my eventual rest knowing that my personal efforts to assist in the ongoing development of the state of Israel weren’t a waste of time. Show me something, anything at all, and I will support you.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think you can. Your present course of action will only lead to more tragedy.

    Stephen M. Flatow lives in New Jersey; his daughter Alisa was murdered in an April 1995 terror attack at Kfar Darom.