Brokenhearted Father Dies, ‘Finished’ by Shalit Deal
Benny Firstatter, 60, passed away last week, nine years after his teenage daughter Smadar was murdered in a terrorist attack. His family said Benny had been suffering since the attack, and that the release of Smadar’s killers in a prisoner exchange “finished him.”
His wife Esther described his last nine years of life in a radio interview. “He was in deep mourning,” she said. “When people asked him, ‘How’s life?’ he would say, ‘We’re just breathing, not living.’” He refused to travel or join family events, she said, taking pleasure only in his relationship with his remaining child, son Avishai.
Three terrorists who coordinated the bus bombing in which Smadar was killed were released in October 2011 in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit. “It finished him. He took it very hard,” Esther recalled.
“He wasn’t angry at Shalit, but at the government and the state for releasing murderers,” she added.
On Tuesday, Benny visited his daughter’s grave. The next night he suffered a heart attack and passed away.
Smadar Firstatter was killed in the bombing of the 37 bus line in Haifa in March 2003. Sixteen others were murdered in the attack as well, most of them children and teenagers.
Smadar's friends and family remembered her as a kind, sensitive girl who dreamed of becoming an artist. Her parents usually forbade her to take the bus, but had made an exception on the day she was murdered.