Terror victims’ families give Peres Haggada

President meets with families of youths killed in 2002 when Hamas gunmen penetrated Atzmona academy in Gush Katif.

Peres receives memorial Haggada 370 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Peres receives memorial Haggada 370
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Families of three of the five young men who were victims of a 2002 Hamas terrorist attack on the Atzmona pre-military training academy in Gush Katif came to the official residence of President Shimon Peres on Tuesday to present him with a memorial Haggada.
The Haggada was produced in the spirit of remembering each of the victims in the same way that Jews are commanded to repeat the story of the exodus from Egypt as if he or she had been there.
Rather than focus on the anguish of loss, the families prefer to remember the individual smiles of their loved ones. Dr. Eli Picard, the father of Eran Picard who was killed together with Ariel Zana, Asher Marcus, Tal Kurzweil and Arik Krogliak, thanked Peres for receiving the group and for listening to the memories they shared about their sons, especially at a time so close to 10th anniversary of their collective bereavement. Through the president, said Picard, there was hope that the eternal smiles of their sons would not be forgotten.
The five 18-year-olds were killed on March, 7, 2002 when Hamas gunmen penetrated the educational facility, shooting and throwing hand grenades at the school and at the nearby houses. In addition, 23 others were injured, four of them seriously.
Peres, who was visibly moved by the manner in which the families wanted to commemorate their loved ones, told them that he was enormously impressed by the deep-rooted Zionist values that they carry in their hearts and that he was certain that their sons had followed in the path of their parents.
Nearly all of the parents were immigrants whose sons had opted to embark on premilitary training and then to continue with full service in elite combat units, he noted.
The president added that in his perception, the pre-military academy represents the pinnacle of Jewish commitment because it combines Torah studies with defense of the country.
“You have each paid a personal heavy price,” he said, recalling that March 2002 was a particularly tragic period for Israel in which many families lost loved ones in a spate of terrorist attacks.
Peres wished each of his guests to experience the full joy of the Passover festival, even though the young men who remained 18 years old forever would be missed at the family Seder.
Rabbi Eli Adler, who had been teaching a class on the night of the attack, accompanied the families. Also present were French Ambassador Christophe Bigot, who has been involved with all French nationals who have suffered traumatic experiences as a result of terrorism, and Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein. The Picard family immigrated to Israel from France.