Palestinian terror victim: Her white dress was black with grief

“At once everything turned over and I knew nothing would ever be the same. That terrible moment stole my happiness and that of my children and all my family,” said El-Rabi.

Aisha El-Rabi’s husband Yaakub speaks at the Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony (photo credit: screenshot)
Aisha El-Rabi’s husband Yaakub speaks at the Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony
(photo credit: screenshot)
Aisha El-Rabi, 48, was stoned to death by a Jewish terrorist in October 2018 as she sat with her husband and child in the moving car discussing her daughter’s upcoming wedding.
“One stone penetrated the windshield and hit Aisha’s beautiful face. Despite the shock and panic that took hold of me, I didn’t stop but continued driving to the closest hospital to try and save Aisha’s life, who was unconscious and bleeding,” her husband Yaakub El-Rabi recalled on Monday night.
“I didn’t make it on time, and the hospital had to declare her death,” El-Rabi said during an emotional speech he delivered at the virtual Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony.
“The news of her death shocked me. Her soul went up to heaven and all was ruined in one treacherous moment. The white dress she prepared for the wedding had become black as if to declare the beginning of grief, sadness and sorrow, instead of happiness and bliss,” El-Rabi said.
“At once everything turned over and I knew nothing would ever be the same. That terrible moment stole my happiness and that of my children and all my family,” he said.
Aisha’s death was particularly difficult for their daughter Rana, who had been in the car. She was nine at the time of the attack.
“She saw her mother bleeding. Her scream pierced the air and then she fell silent with shock. After we buried her mother, Rama hid her colorful clothes and to this day nobody knows where she hid them,” El-Rabi recalled.
He said that he was privileged to have been able to share his life with Aisha, explaining that together they had eight children: two boys and six girls. While Aisha was raising the children, she also received a BA in business management and had intended to pursue a career in higher education, El-Rabi said.
She was the pillar of her home and community, active in the school’s Parents Associations and the village women’s center. “Everyone could come to her for help, and knew they could count on her,” El-Rabi said. Aisha was taken from her family “because of hatred and animosity.”
He has never been a person who sought conflict, he said.
“I have never taken part in this battle. Even today, after paying such a huge price, I will not let my anger lead me to revenge. I believe that divine justice will be served to the murderers of my wife and love,” El-Rabi said.
But as a result of his loss, he has a message for Israeli society, one “born from my bleeding wound.”
The loss of human life from this conflict is felt by everyone, he said. The violence doesn’t differentiate between soldiers and civilians, women or men, children or adults or even between the instigators and the bystanders, he said.  
“Therefore I say: Stop hatred and animosity. Let us live in peace and love. Because we, just like you, love life and are doing our best to live it,” El-Rabi said.
Haggai Yoel recalled how the death of his brother Eyal in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield changed his entire attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During Passover 2002, Eyal was hiking with his wife in the desert when he was called up for reserve duty in the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin. Eyal was killed while helping to rescue members of another unit that had been ambushed. He “managed to change the course of the battle, and paid for it with his life,” Yoel recalled.
Older by two years, Eyal was the brother “who watched over me at nights, when I was scared of the dark, with whom I shared great love for animals throughout our childhood, who in adulthood chose to study chemical engineering to save the planet,” Yoel said.
He and Eyal grew up in a family of six on Kibbutz Ramat Rachel, Yoel said. They were raised to believe in the rightness of the Zionist cause. At the time he viewed Israel as a country that had stretched its hand out for peace, only to continually find that there was no partner on the Palestinian side. This left no choice but to “control the Palestinian civilian population” and to “implement an unlighted occupation,” Yoel said.
Then after Eyal’s death, he was numb for a long time. “I closed my ears, shut my eyes, shut my mouth. I didn’t want to hear, didn’t want to see, I didn’t think I had anything of significance to say,” Yoel said.
He was awoken from his silence four years ago upon learning of the stiff opposition, including by the defense minister, to the joint Israeli-Palestinian ceremony.
“Something inside me revolted against the thought, that the defense minister believes he can decide for me how I choose to remember Eyal,” Yoel said.
His children and fear for their future helped to awaken him from his stupor and spurred him into action.
“My children were excellent teachers. When he was five, my oldest son Gal told me that he would not go to the army because in the army, people died like uncle Eyal,” Yoel said. “Five years later, in fifth grade, Gal informed me that he would be a combat commander in the army.”
Yoel told the audience that he refused “to be considered a traitor just because I oppose the occupation” and refused “to be censored just because I believe that peace is essential.”
He continued, “it is clear to me that peace alone and only peace will enable serenity and calmness and will allow everyone who lives here a better life.”
For this to occur, both sides have to make concessions, otherwise frustration and despair will ensure perpetual war, Yoel said.
“My son Gal is now 13 I look at him and I can’t imagine him as a soldier holding a weapon,” Yoel said. He hopes that in five years time, hostilities will have ceased and there would be no need for his son to head to war.
“I know that my acts and yours through watching me now, is the way to achieve this change,” Yoel said.
The 15th annual ceremony was co-sponsored by the Parents Circle Families-Forum and Combatants for Peace. It featured two Israelis and two Palestinians, who had each lost a loved one to the conflict.