I am Yusra Abd al-Aziz Mahfoud. My family was originally from Kfar Yazur (Azor), near Jaffa
Roni Hirshenson - "I Don’t Have the Privilege to Give Up Hope"
I was born in Jerusalem in 1942, married Miri and had five kids, Tami, Hadas, Liat, Amir and Elad.
On January 22nd 1995, at 09:05 AM, a suicide bomber, a member of the Islamic Jihad, dressed in an IDF uniform, blew himself up in a bus station among Israeli soldiers, at the Beit–Lid junction.
Amir, my son, who was a recruit in the Paratroopers Division, and had not been in the army for even three months, was sent with his friends to secure the junction. Amir went to help the wounded. A few minutes went by and another suicide bomber blew himself up. Our child, Amir, was killed together with twenty one soldiers and one citizen.
I got the bitter message on the same day in the afternoon. My youngest son, Elad, who wasn’t even fourteen years old, told me on the phone in a shaken voice: “Dad come home, people came from the army.”
From that moment my family and I were transported to another world, a world, in which we, who are in it, don’t need to describe it, and the ones who are not in it, cannot understand.
The days were the days of the internal conflict in the Israeli political arena. Prime Minister Rabin and his government were attacked by people from the Israeli right wing which stirred up and inflamed the Israeli streets after the government signed the Oslo Accords.
One day, while walking in the street, I saw an advertisement belonging to an extreme right wing campaign headquarters. My son’s name was included there together with pictures of all the victims since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The headline of the advertisement was “The Bloody Agreement” and in the middle was a photo of Rabin and Arafat shaking hands. I became enraged. My son died because there is no peace. How could anyone take my own private pain and use it so blatantly to try to stop the peace process?
A few days later I received a letter from Yitzhak Frankenthal inviting me to join his initiative in organizing bereaved families who are in favor of peace and negotiation, as opposed to bereaved families urging the government not to talk with the enemy. One phone call with him and I became involved, doing my best to gather people who have expressed a desire to act. Together we formed a small group of bereaved parents thus the name Parents Circle, when other bereaved members joined who weren’t parents we both expanded the name and added Families Forum, that was the beginning.
Bereavement strikes me again.
On September 28th 2000, Arik Sharon walked up the Temple Mount, as if he had been authorized by destiny itself to open the gates of hell. The El Aktza Intifada started.
The first soldier who got killed on this cursed, bloody and reckless day was David Biri who secured a settlers’ convoy in Gaza, (Karnei Netzarim axis). David got shot and injured in his head from a Hamas ambush that fired at him. He died in hospital.
David Biri was my son Elad’s best friend, just like a brother. Elad, who served in the army in ‘Galei Zahal’ (the army radio), committed suicide three weeks later, on 18th of October 2000, leaving a letter which said that he couldn’t take another loss and that there wasn’t any comfort.
After experiencing our second loss we moved to live next to our daughters in the center of Israel. We left everything behind us, it was as though we needed to shut a door. I left my private occupation to work in the Parents Circle. For me, this organization does its best to help bring about the end of the conflict and prevent any further bereavement.