‘People feel they’re living the trauma all over again’

Residents reeling after Itamar massacre as news crews fill the settlement and social workers talk to the surviving Fogel children.

fogel itamar attack body bags 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
fogel itamar attack body bags 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
“Mazal Tov on the birth of Hadas,” reads a hand-written sign on the front door of the Fogel home in the Itamar settlement, celebrating the toddler’s birth four months before she, her parents, and two pre-teen siblings were killed there on Friday night.
The modest home lies in a new neighborhood that overlooks a rocky cliff leading to a creek bed and hilltop spotted with a few houses belonging to the nearby Palestinian village of Hawara.
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On Sunday, news crews parked outside the house as police forensic personnel walked in and out. A handful of soldiers sat on a bench on the sidewalk outside, while a photographer made coffee at an improvised refreshments stand.
The mood was somber on Sunday, either because residents were clearing out to make it to the funeral for the five Fogels in Jerusalem, or because of a sense of collective shock, even in a community that had lost 15 members to terrorism before Friday.
Dr. Pinchas Gerber, who made aliya from New York and has lived in Itamar for 25 years, said that he and other social workers helping the residents have their work cut out for them.
“We are meeting with the [three surviving Fogel] children and talking to them.
What’s important for them is to be able to express what they’re feeling. The anger, frustration, fear, to find a way to express it.”
Gerber said that when tragedy strikes a community like Itamar, which has been visited by terror several times in the past, “it brings back the trauma of five-10 years ago and people feel like they’re reliving it all over again.
When something like this happens it has a communal effect, it effects the entire community, not just the relatives of the victims.”
In the days to come, Gerber said he and other social workers will try to meet with around 180 families in the settlement, which houses around 1,000 members. They will also speak to nursery school teachers in order to help train them in ways to answer children’s questions or fears following the attack, and will form parent groups in which the residents will be able to express their feelings with one another.
“People need to know that the feelings they have are normal in a situation like this,” adding that the situation is especially sensitive for the surviving Fogel children, aged two, eight and 12, whose “whole world has fallen apart.”
The Fogels weren’t the first family killed by terrorists in Itamar. In June 2002, a Palestinian infiltrated the Shabo home and gunned down the mother, Rachel, and three of her children, aged 16, 13, and five. Two other children were seriously wounded and a neighborhood security guard was killed.
A month earlier, a terrorist entered the settlement and shot and killed 14-year-old yeshiva student Gilad Stieglitz and wounded another student.
The gunman continued onto the yeshiva itself, where he killed students Avraham Siton and Netanel Riachi.
Itamar Mayor Moshe Goldshmidt, also a 25-yearresident who made aliya from New York, said on Sunday the locals were in shock, trying to digest an attack that was shocking even by the standards set by previous ones there.
“They are still trying to absorb what happened, something so cruel, so brutal, a husband and a wife and three children murdered in their home, there’s no words that can describe it. We’re talking about of course a terrible event that comes after so many terror attacks that we’ve suffered here. We have 20- something fatalities in the settlement,” he said.
He described 11-year-old Yoav Fogel as “a tremendous giant in Torah study” and said it was a “very special family that was very involved in building Israel and in giving charity.”
“Every one of these three children was an angel,” Goldshmidt said.