Fogel tragedy turned nation into one family, says Peres

Killers were taught to hate, says Haim Fogel; relatives of slain Itamar family say country’s embrace has been a comfort.

Peres at the Fogels 311 (photo credit: Yosef Avi Yair Engel)
Peres at the Fogels 311
(photo credit: Yosef Avi Yair Engel)
“What happened at Itamar has turned us all, heart and soul, into one family,” President Shimon Peres told the closest relatives of Ehud and Ruthie Fogel.
The couple, together with three of their children Yoav, Elad and Hadas, were butchered in their sleep by intruders who entered their home in Itamar earlier this month.
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Peres made the statement at the conclusion of a condolence call to the Fogel and Ben-Yishai families on Thursday.
The president’s heavy load of duties had prevented him making such calls during the first week of mourning, aides said. He is still in the process of completing visits of this kind to families of victims of the Carmel fires.
The brutal murder of the Fogel family was the most despicable outrage experienced in Israel to date, Peres said, adding that security forces have made it a priority to find the perpetrators of the massacre.
He had no doubt, he said, that they would be found and brought to justice.
Peres told the parents of Ehud and Ruthie Fogel that he was full of admiration for the way in which they had raised their children and grandchildren, yet at the same time, he was full of sadness in the knowledge that there was nothing to comfort them in the face of the horrible deaths of their loved ones.
“There is no comfort when children have been murdered,” but even this murder would not deter the efforts being made to strengthen Israel’s security, he declared.
Haim Fogel, the father of the slain Ehud, said that his children had been educated with values such as love for Torah, statehood and respect for the other, but it was impossible not to notice the unfettered hatred of the other side. Politics aside, with the focus purely on education, said Fogel, children are taught hatred at school, and the upshot of that is what happened to his son, daughter-inlaw and grandchildren.
“The murderers killed our children in the most bestial fashion. But they are not beasts. They are human beings who were taught to hate.”
Rabbi Yehoshua Ben-Yishai, the father of Ruth Fogel, commented that no one can tell what his own fate will be.
“On a personal level, we could not have imagined that a horror of this magnitude would befall us.”
Ben-Yishai hoped that the robust Israeli attitude would help his family and the nation to withstand new challenges.

He said that he was most honored by and appreciative of Peres’s visit and of what he had said, even though he has had differences of opinion with the president from time to time. However, in the aftermath of the tragedy, the bereaved families had felt the embrace of the nation. There was a sense of deep national identification, and the families had received a huge volume of letters of condolence.
The terrorist attack in Jerusalem and missiles from across the southern border were evidence that Israel is once again being tested, Ben- Yishai told Peres, adding praise for the president for speaking to people in unifying terminology that overrides all differences.