- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2002

There are times when reports of Israeli and Arab children being killed are so common that the names of the dead, so briefly known, do not survive the next fatalities in this ceaseless news cycle. But the murders in Kibbut Metzer on Nov. 10 are not likely to fade from memory soon.
Kibbutz Metzer is 30 miles north of Tel Aviv, near the border with the West Bank. It is within Israel, not a settlement. For 50 years, the residents of this Kibbutz have had close and cooperative relationships with the nearby Israeli-Arab village of Meisar.
"Even the water systems of the villages are connected, with an emergency faucet, such that if one of the systems fails, immediately the faucet is turned on," said Najib Abu Rakia to Israelinewspaper Ha'aretz. Mr. Rakia lives in Meisar and works with the B'tselem human-rights organization.
For five decades, Palestinian and Israeli children have played together, and residents acknowledge the mutual respect and friendship between the two villages. "We learned to grow olives from them, and they learned how to grow other crops from us," said one Kibbutz resident.
In Israeli elections, Kibbutz Metzer votes for peace candidates. According to the Jerusalem Post, some of its members were vigorously lobbying against the Israeli Defense Forces "putting up a security fence nearby in a zone that would involve confiscating farmland from Arab neighbors."
The tranquility of their peaceful relationship was shattered shortly before midnight on Nov. 10. A member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement slid under the Kibbutz's security fence and broke into a toy-filled bedroom where Revital Ohayoun was reading a bedtime story to her sons, Matan, 5, and Noam, 4. The gunman aimed point blank and murdered all three.
The father, Avi Ohayoun as reported in the New York Daily News "held up his baby's pacifiers and cried inconsolably: 'How could a terrorist come in and see a child with two pacifiers and kill him?' "
A spokesman for Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade first explained that the murders had been a mistake. The killer thought Kibbutz was a Jewish settlement. So, if the two children had been gunned down in a Jewish settlement that, somehow, would have been OK? Actually, as Uri Dan of the New York Post reported, "a later statement (from Al-Aqsa) said the target was intentionally selected." Any Israeli children will do.
Yasser Arafat, as is his mechanical custom, condemned the murders. Surely, he has more than passing knowledge of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, because he has financed it, going over his disbursements very carefully as documents captured by Israelis from his compound have revealed. Mr. Arafat, of course, promises ritualistically that this Al-Aqsa killer will be brought to justice.
But Abu Mujahid, a spokesman for Al-Aqsa in the northern West Bank, has told the Jerusalem Post: "This attack was a message … that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will not stop its struggle and attacks against Israel."
However, in the Arab village of Meisar, there was mourning for the shattered bodies of Israeli children nearby. "If people could see what really happens here, they would understand how close our relationship is with our Arab neighbors. If they saw how all the people from Meisar came here when they heard about the attack to offer their support and their condolences, they would understand," said Shlomit Lotan of Kibbutz Metzer to the New York Daily News.
And who predominantly prevents the Arabs and Israelis from living together, as in these two villages?
Maybe the killing of Matan, Noam and their mother will enable people across the globe to understand that, indeed, Palestinian children have been killed unintentionally in Israeli military operations, but the Palestinian Authority's Voice of Palestine Radio officially called the bedroom murders in Kibbutz Metzer an "operation."
There is a difference when children are deliberately killed by suicide bombers or by gunmen in bedrooms, pizza parlors and other places where there are no military actions. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Hamas and Islamic Jihad proudly, righteously, murder Israelis indiscriminately, anywhere, even when Israeli children are holding pacifiers. But it's not only the terrorists who inhibit relationships such as those between Kibbutz Metzer and Meisar. Also accomplices in these holy killings are the celebrating mothers of suicide bombers and Palestinians who actually believe that murderers are martyrs, and honor them.


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