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Laughter in the cemetery

By David Wilder
3/10/2013, 7:03 PM

Late this afternoon a small group of people gathered at Hebron’s ancient cemetery, standing adjacent to a small grave stone.

News from Hebron
The Hebron Press Office
March 26, 2001

Terrorist gunfire kills one and injures one in Hebron
At about 5:00 this afternoon an Arab sniper shot and killed a 10 month old
baby girl, Shalhevet Techiya Pass, and wounded her father, Yitzhak Pass,
with two bullets in the legs. They were shot at the entrance to the Avraham
Avinu neighborhood. The baby was in the mother's arms at the time of the
shooting and was hit in the head. Emergency medical teams arrived
immediately. The father was treated and evacuated to hospital. The doctors
were not able to save the baby.

A Hebron spokesman issued the following statement:
For seven months the Hebron community has been shot at from Abu Sneneh and Harat a'Shech hills surrounding Hebron. Before the hills were transferred to Arafat, 4 years ago, we warned that the hills would be a source of Arab
gunfire, directed at the community. We were laughed at. Following the
beginning of the war, seven months ago, we again warned that if the hills
were not recaptured by the Israeli army, blood would be spilled. Several
times, Arab snipers have barely missed hitting soldiers and civilians in
the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. This afternoon the sniper hit two people -
a 10 month old baby in her mother's arms, and her father. If Ariel Sharon
does not fulfill his promise to provide security for Hebron's residents -
if he does not give orders to the army to retake the hills, Hebron's
community will have no choice but to take appropriate action. Ariel Sharon
promised security. Since he was elected, two innocent people have been
killed. If Sharon does not react to today's shooting, why was he elected?

 “We walked with Shalhevet in her stroller in the direction of the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, her grandparents, my wife's parents, and when we reached the entrance to the neighborhood, then, I remember the blast I felt in my legs, at the first moment I didn't understand what had happened, and when I turned around and saw that my legs were hit, I realized that I'd been shot. I lay down on the ground behind the soldier's station, my wife took Shalhevet from the stroller in the direction of a wall that could block them from the shooting, and when she held her head, she discovered that Shalhevet had been shot in the head.  The soldiers started arriving, there was shooting, until I was evacuated. I remember it like it was yesterday.” (Itzik Pass, two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the murder).

News from Hebron
The Hebron Press Office
March 26, 2001

Terrorist shooting update:

Hebron's leadership held an emergency meeting tonight following the sniper
shooting which left Shalhevet Techiya Pass, 10 months old, dead, and her
father, Itzik Pass, wounded. He was hit in the legs and is presently
undergoing surgery at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

Hebron's leadership has demanded that the hills surrounding Hebron be
retaken by the Israel Defense forces. During the meeting is was decided
that the Hebron community would stage a 24 hour a day protest in the Arab
market, next to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, until the hills are again
under Israeli control. It was decided to name the hills, (presently called
Abu Sneneh), the Shalhevet hills, in memory of the murdered baby.
(Shalhevet means "flame" in Hebrew.)

Presently several Hebron leaders are meeting with Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon in Jerusalem, demanding that he fulfill his campaign promise to
provide security for Jews in Judea, Samaria and Gazza. Should Sharon
refuse, it is expected that massive protest demonstrations against the
Sharon administration will begin throughout Israel.

Funeral plans are still pending.

Q. Shalhevet was your first born and at that time, only child. Since then your wife has given birth several times.


When Shalhevet was killed she was towards the end of her pregnancy. A few months later she gave birth to another daughter, Renana Nechama, and since then, thank G-d, we have two sons and three daughters, the last one was born two weeks ago and thank G-d, we see comfort in the children. This is one of the things that gives strength. We know that we still have reasons to continue and for what to aspire.

Q. What do you teach them, what do you tell them?

We tell them what happened, without hiding anything. I think that it's important that children, as soon as they are able to comprehend, should understand the reality and know that Hebron isn't like every other place in the world, that there are the complexities here. The children understand it, they live here and they know we're not in Tel Aviv, that here there are soldiers and Arabs, that sometimes we get hit by rocks. Sometimes they feel the realities and complexities, but the bereavement is part of our life. I don't think it should be blurred. It's important that the children should know that, first of all, there is a price for our faith, for what we think and what we do, and that we gave our most valuable possession for the sake of Eretz Yisrael, for the sake of settling the land. (Itzik Pass, two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the murder).

Before the short memorial service began this afternoon, some of the Pass children were running around in the cemetery. Itzik picked up one of his children, laughing. His father, standing next to him, seemed very surprised to see his son laugh, and so remarked. Itzik replied, ‘a cemetery is a funny place.’
 

Thinking about this statement, I realized that Itzik has what to laugh about. True, he and his wife Oriya lost their first child. But the sniper’s bullet was not meant to kill only Shalhevet. It was aimed at all Hebron, at all our men, women and children. For some reason, it hit and killed a tiny baby.

But, in the end, Itzik and Oriya Pass defeated both the sniper and all those who sent him to perform his evil deed. For they are still here in Hebron, thriving in Hebron, raising their children in Hebron. Their victory is triumphal example to all, of dedication, determination, and self-sacrifice. Sure, tears can still be shed; the feeling of the loss is still tangible. But the Pass’ conquest over evil, over terror, is too, tangible.
 

Q. Itzik, why did you stay here in Hebron?

First of all, we are stubborn. The Jewish people are stubborn, a stiff-necked people. We are enrooted in this land. Both in our personal family, and in a more general way, this is everything. There is nothing, not murder, not Arabs, which can uproot us from here, because we are a stiff-necked people. Despite what the Jewish people have experienced, we have been able to hold our heads high. We have to understand how they lived in Galut where anyone could do whatever he wanted to Jews, and here, and here, in Eretz Yisrael, we hold our heads high, standing straight and tall, no one will ever get us out of here. (Itzik Pass, two years ago, on the 10th anniversary of the murder).

Entire interview here