Nights are the hardest for Kay Wilson, who was brutally stabbed five weeks ago in an attack in the Jerusalem Forest that killed her friend, Kristine Luken.
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Because of the wounds all over her body, she can only sleep on her back and wakes up several times every night from the pain.
“When I wake up I remember why I’m like I am, and it’s like a shock wave,” she said in a rare interview with The Jerusalem Pos
t two weeks ago.
Three weeks after December 18’s attack, Wilson said she still hadn’t cried, acknowledging that she was still very much in shock. Sitting in the January sunshine on the balcony of a friend, at whose home she is recuperating, the only visible reminder of the attack when Wilson wears a long-sleeved shirt is a 7-centimeter scar on her sternum.
Investigators hailed Wilson as a hero on Wednesday after a media blackout on the investigation into the stabbings was lifted. To protect the integrity of the investigation, police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had not corrected media reports that forced her to defend herself against allegations that she had murdered her friend.
“I not only witnessed the barbaric and senseless murder of a close friend, and was almost murdered or kidnapped myself by terrorists, but have found myself in the first stages of this investigation to be the object of hurtful and unfounded speculation,” she said.
But on Wednesday, police said her detailed descriptions of the attacker led to a breakthrough that allowed them to breakup an independent terrorist ring responsible for at least one other murder, two attempted murders, rape, theft, and other violent acts.
Thirteen Palestinians from villages around Hebron were arrested, and four were indicted on Wednesday.
Jerusalem District Police chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco commended Wilson for giving testimony between several surgeries in the hours after the attack, enabling the police to arrest the two central suspects within 48 hours.
Born in London, Wilson came to Israel for the first time in the 1980s and made aliya in 1991, during the First Gulf War. Two days after she arrived, the Scuds started falling, but it didn’t deter her from staying.
After working as a part-time illustrator and cartoonist, a jazz pianist with regular gigs in Tel Aviv, and at a variety of other jobs, Wilson decided in 2006 to become a tour guide.
She guides in both Hebrew and English, but has found her niche guiding Englishspeaking Christians, specializing in the Second Temple Period and the Jewish roots of Christianity.
It was through her guide work that Wilson met Kristine Luken. They were both participants on a study tour this past summer that explored Jewish life and the Holocaust in Poland. Luken wanted to learn more about Judaism, while Wilson wanted to understand more about how Christians understand and experience the Holocaust. They became fast friends and kept in touch.
Luken arrived two days before the attack, on December 16. On December 17, the women hiked in Ein Bokek near the Dead Sea and climbed Mount Sodom.
On Saturday, December 18, Wilson suggested they hike in “one of the prettiest places in the country,” the Jerusalem Forest outside Beit Shemesh.
While driving on back roads, Wilson pulled over to stop at a mosaic that she remembered from her tour-guide course.
As Wilson recounts the attack minute by minute, her voice stays stoic
and calm. She wants the world to know what happened to her in the
forest; she wants to share what has happened so she can begin the
process of healing.
“I don’t want this event to define me,” she said.
The two women got out of the car with Wilson’s dog, Peanut, and walked a
bit on the Israel Trail. They had wandered off the path to an overlook
when suddenly two Arab men appeared and asked in Hebrew if they had any
“I was startled... so I answered in Hebrew, which was a mistake,” Wilson
said. “I know what they were trying to do, they were trying to figure
out if we were Jewish.”
The men gave her an uneasy feeling, so Wilson suggested they head back
to the path. She walked in front of Luken and opened the blade of her
“Suddenly, she screams, and as I turn around one of them pounces on me,
the other one has already pounced on her,” Wilson recounted. “This is
the moment I was so terrified.
This was the overwhelming moment of fear for me, this first part.”
She struggled with her attacker, who had pulled out a very long,
serrated knife, and managing to stab him in the thigh with her pen
It was this stab that later allowed forensics experts to collect DNA at
the site and positively identify the attacker, the Shin Bet said.
“They didn’t stab us [at first], they were trying to quiet us down,” she
said. “I have this overwhelming adrenaline of absolute terror.
I’m frozen for five minutes, I just don’t know what to do.
Somehow emotionally that moment passes and I’m able to think a little more clearly.”
Wilson switched tactics, showing her tour guide badge and saying that a
bus full of tourists was about to come looking for them, offering the
attackers all of their belongings.
She kept telling Luken, “Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.”
“I was talking crap, I didn’t have a plan,” she said.
Meanwhile, the attackers were on their cellphones, saying over and over
in Arabic, “Where are you?!” coordinating with at least one other member
of the terrorist cell who was in the getaway vehicle.
Twenty minutes had passed since the men first attacked Wilson and Luken.
One of the men forced Wilson to take off her shoes and used the laces
to bind the women’s hands behind their backs.
“Then there’s this moment, I’ll never forget this. He takes off my Star
of David. He very gently bows my head, takes it off like a fiancé would.
And he has this smirk on his face.”
Later, the man would stab Wilson in the very spot where her Star of David lay.
As one of the men used pieces of Luken’s jacket to gag the women, it dawned on Wilson that they were going to be kidnapped.
“I’m standing there and I have the most terrible thought: that if we’re
going to go sit with Gilad Schalit [in captivity], it’s better to be
dead. It’s the most horrendous decision,” she said.
Then the women were separated and Wilson was forced to get on her knees
with her head bowed. Suddenly the fear of murder became real.
“I see he gets out his knife and he pushes my head forward and I’m just
waiting to be beheaded. I think psychologically at that point I lost all
sense of fear. I completely blacked out, all I could think about was
that he’d make a clean cut that he wouldn’t be messy.
“I’m waiting for ‘Allahu akbar!’ but it doesn’t come.
Instead, I hear ‘Oh no, oh God,’ and I can hear them starting to stab
[Kristine] a few times. The next thing I know...he’s just stabbing me.
“It was so terrifying that there wasn’t a capacity for fear.
I’m just thinking, ‘I’m being murdered, what a waste, I’m 46 years old
and I’m actually being murdered.’ I say ‘Shema Yisrael’ and the next
thing I know I can hear Kristine really, really crying. And I’m
thinking, ‘Stop it Kristine, stop it, you’ll have a chance if you just
stop it.’” The first five or six stabs were into her muscles, but when
one punctured her diaphragm, Wilson thought it was the end.
“I couldn’t really work out if I was alive, and then I realized I am
alive because I could physically feel the ground,” she recalled. She
played dead, hoping the men would leave, somehow managing not to flinch
during the repeated stabbings even though her eyes were open.
Finally the two men left, though they returned a moment later when Luken
let out a cry, stabbing her several more times until she stopped making
noise altogether. One of the men came over to Wilson, flipped her on
her back, and drove his knife into her sternum, where her Star of David
had been. Wilson managed not to cry out, and continuing to play dead.
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