(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Jewish Agency on Sunday donated NIS 100,000 to victims of the Shfaram attack and their families. The attack was committed at the beginning of August by Jewish terrorist Eden Natan Zada on board an Egged bus.
It was the first time that money from a special fund - established to help victims of terror following the outbreak of the so-called Aksa intifada - has been given to Israeli Arabs who were victims of Jewish terror.
In the past, money from the fund has been given to Israeli Arabs and their families who were caught in attacks by Palestinian terrorists, as in the case of the suicide bombings at Haifa's Matza and Maxim restaurants.
Four residents of Shfaram - bus driver Michel Bahous, sisters Dina and Hazar Turki and another passenger, Nadir Hayak - were killed and 12 others were wounded in the shooting attack by Zada before he was overpowered and killed by an angry mob.
Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski said at the presentation ceremony at Shfaram municipality that there was no differentiation between [Arab and Jewish] blood, and that those killed and wounded in Shfaram were victims of terror.
"The Jewish Agency is the organization to which all world Jewry is connected. At the start of the intifada, the agency established a fund for the victims of terror. Unfortunately, today there are thousands of them," said Bielski.
"On August 4, a crime was committed in Shfaram when a [Jewish] citizen of the State opened fire aboard a bus and killed innocent people whose only sin was that they happened to be in that place at the wrong time.
"The Jewish Agency took a courageous decision to treat the victims in Shfaram in exactly the same way as other victims. Management of the fund for terror victims decided to give them assistance according to the same criteria, after learning of their needs.
"In the name of world Jewry, I express our admiration for the steadfastness of the families and the deep sorrow of millions of Jews throughout the world."
Bielski told reporters that the decision to award financial aid to the victims of the Shfaram terror attack had received unanimous support from representatives of Jewish communities abroad who had given donations to the fund.
Ikbal Bahous, brother of the Egged bus driver Michel who was among those killed in the attack, said the money would not help ease the grief or bring his brother back but it was a positive gesture.
Shfaram mayor Ursan Yassin warmly welcomed the initiative by the Jewish Agency and thanked the generous spirit of the Jewish people, saying it would help encourage coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
"This is a big step that gives me the strength to continue on my path that leads to greater cooperation [between Jews and Arabs] and to a better life," said Yassin at the ceremony.
"We need as many such moves as possible in order to thwart those who seek to dance on the blood of those who were killed.
"It is my hope that this will be the last time that a citizen of the State kills another citizen . . . I call on the government to uproot this phenomenon," said Yassin.
After the presentation ceremony, Bielski and other senior members of the agency were hosted at the home of Bahous's widow and his three children.
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