Paula R. Stern is CEO and founder of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company offering documentation services and training seminars. She made aliyah in 1993 when her oldest son was 6 years old. In March 2007, her son Elie entered the Artillery Division of the Israeli army and Paula began writing about her experiences as A Soldier"s Mother. The blog continues as Elie begins Reserve Duty and her son Shmulik is now a soldier. She recently opened a publishing house, helping other authors fulfill their dream to publish. Links to the Author's blogs: * A Soldier"s MotherPaulaSays...
Hakim Awad is an 18-year-old Palestinian from the small village of Awarta. On the night of March 11, 2011, Hakim and his cousin Amjad entered the small Jewish village of Itamar. Their movements that night are known, their actions an atrocity beyond imagination. They entered the Fogel home and in a short time, murdered Udi and Ruthi Fogel, parents to 6 children - the oldest only 12 years old.
Hakim and his cousin murdered Udi and Ruthi. In the demented mind of the Palestinian terrorists, one might argue that Udi was once a soldier and so a legitimate target. He was, of course, unarmed on that quiet peaceful Sabbath night, but human beings at war care little for those details. It was not a justified kill, but one could argue, perhaps, it was a murder that didn't shock. There is anger over Udi's murder, but not shock.
Ruthi was a gentle mother of six. Never a soldier. Unarmed. Her murder was as barbaric and wrong as her husband's and yet, somehow, given what is to come, still not shocking. We have lost precious Jewish mothers before. As mothers, we stand in front of our children to defend them. This is what Ruthi did. Somehow, with her body, she blocked the door of her two young sons and so the terrorists did not enter that room. They and their oldest sister Tamar, who was not home, were the only ones to live.
Hakim and Amjad also murdered 10-year-old Yoav, and the shock begins.
Hakim and Amjad murdered precious little Elad, who was only 4 years old. They stabbed him in the heart. The shock becomes a chocking grief as it sinks in.
And Hakim and Amjad murdered tiny, little Hadas, who was only 3 months old. They slit her throat and left her body beside that of her murdered father. This is where the grief becomes a pain so deep the heart breaks. You wonder at the barbarity and you question how this thing that murdered these precious souls has a right to breathe the same air we do. The anger bubbles up and chokes you.
And then you read in Maan Agency News (Palestinian "news" source) that maybe it was a Thai worker who did it; that there was no evidence it was Palestinians. But that, of course, was always a lie. There was direct evidence. The stupid Hakim and Amjad all but left a trail of bloody footprints back to Awarta.
Israel is, I remind myself often, a democracy. It arrested the cousins, when I would have wanted them beaten, hanged, sliced open as they did to little Hadas. It is their bodies I want strewn on the floor in unbearable agony, not the Fogel family. But Israel is a just society. The cousins were arrested, and tried.
In a most just sentence, 18-year-old Hakim was found guilty - not hard to do since he's actually quite proud of his greatest achievement in his miserable, worthless life. He expresses no remorse. Actually, that isn't true. He regrets not killing Ruthi's other two sons. The courts imposed an interesting sentence - five consecutive life sentences. Not concurrent - but consecutive...plus another five years.
By all that is just in the world, Hakim will spend the rest of his miserable life in jail. May it be a most horrible sentence - no, Israel, no - do not allow him regular family visits as you do others. Legally, we must let the Red Cross see him - fine - let them see him from behind an impenetrable glass. No, Israel - no higher education; there is no use educating something that cannot even really be called human.
And before the anger chokes me further - let me say that we should release Hakim Awad. Now, Bibi - make the deal with Hamas. We will release one prisoner - a son for a son. Take your murderer, Hakim - you are welcome to him, and give us Gilad.
Gilad is pure. He was captured when he was 19 years old; Hakim is probably 19 now, or will be shortly. Pure he may never have been; and pure he never will be. What sentence he serves in this life is nothing for what awaits him in the next. I believe that even God was shocked and sickened by what Hakim did and I have complete faith that in His Infinite Wisdom, Hakim's eternal punishment will be so just and deserved.
Gilad served his nation. Hakim apparently served his. Gilad murdered no one, harmed no one. Hakim massacred an innocent family, a father, a mother, two young boys, and baby Hadas.
There, Hamas - take your murderer and give us Gilad. No, it is not justice, but it is a trade that is worthy because it is not 1,000 for one. And let it be known - if an Israeli soldier so much as sees Hakim Awad - even through the scope of his high-powered gun, Hakim is a dead man.
Take Hakim into Gaza and let him live there - deep within. If we see him, this time, justice will be served with a bullet to his head or if the soldier manages to find it, Hakim's tiny and useless heart.
Gilad for Hakim - a trade the Palestinians can be proud of. We get our precious son, who stands for all we hold dear. Gilad could have avoided combat duty and been given a lower profile. He chose to fight with the army and demand a high enough profile to get him into the tank division. Gilad served his country with pride and honor. And Hakim, precious son of the Palestinians butchered an innocent baby. He too stands for much of what his people honor.
A trade, then. Hakim for Gilad. Release Hakim Awad - release Gilad Shalit - and let us all move on to the agony and reality we live in. No, our stomachs and hearts and minds will not settle from this horror - not ever. If Hakim is to serve out his term in an Israeli prison, let it be the hell he deserves in this life. No cellular phone, no computer, no education earned while serving. The letter of international law and no more. Gilad has not been seen by the Red Cross in five years.
Gilad is likely held deep underground, in the dark so that we cannot find him. Let Hakim be held in darkness, in silence. His crime has earned him no less (and a lot more). Or trade them. Give them back their son for ours.
I cannot accept a trade that would see 1,000 freed for Gilad because in the Arab mind, this is a victory and next time they will demand 5,000. But a one-for-one trade I can stomach - on the condition that every Israeli soldier is given a picture of Hakim and orders to shoot him on sight.