When I transferred Eve Boaz (68), from Shaare Zedek Medical Center to the Hospice at Mount Scopus last month I knew I was saying farewell. Death is a frequent visitor in my professional life. It is usually expected and timely.
On that wintry Jerusalem morning, what I did not realize was that I was also saying farewell to her committed partner Avi.
Eve was dying of cancer of the cervix. She was cared for by her 22-year-old daughter, Edith, and by her ex-husband Avi. Despite having divorced many years ago, Eve and Avi were the closest of friends. Though the marriage had not worked the love endured and Avi had nursed and supported her through her battle with cancer. He was a loving gentle man, committed to his ex-wife and mother of his daughter. He was ever by her side.
In the spirit of Harper Lee, Avi Boaz was a mockingbird. At seventy-two he was a gentle, generous and vulnerable man. Crippled by polio, he was severely disabled. Even with the aid of his cane, he had a slow lumbering and unsteady gait. Avi, an architect and construction engineer, was an unusual man. An American Jew and a committed Zionist, in the years after his divorce he had made his life with the Palestinians of Beit Jalla. There he lived and worked. He was a well-known and beloved character in the small hillside town of predominantly Christian Palestinians. He had been involved in tens of building projects in Beit Jalla, Bethlehem, Beit Sachur and Har Gilo.
Though he was a Jew and an Israeli, his closest friends were Palestinians.
He remained in Beit Jalla until his Palestinian friends urged him to move out. The town had been infiltrated by the Fatah militants who, against the will of the locals, were using the town to shoot across the valley into the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo. From my living room, I could hear the shooting.
Even while caring for Eve, Avi maintained his close contacts with his friends in Beit Jalla (which is located next to Bethlehem). He had rented a home in nearby Har Gilo and was renovating it. It was there that he planned to care for Eve in her final days.
It was a wedding with no dry eyes. Two days later Eve was dead.
Twelve days ago, Eve and Avi remarried in an emotional service at the Hospice at the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hadassah hospital. Despite all that had passed they were still in love. In the shadow of her impending death, they had wanted to be reunited. It was a wedding with no dry eyes. Two days later Eve was dead.
After the traditional seven days of mourning, it was only two days ago that Avi started getting out again. He returned to his project of completing the home he had been preparing for Eve. That was why he was in Beit Jalla today.
He was buying building supplies among his friends. This afternoon Avi Boaz was abducted by members of the Fatah whilst shopping in Beit Jalla. He was tortured and murdered. His mutilated body was dumped in a near-by orchard.
The Fatah is the military wing of Yasser Arafat's PLO.
Today I will walk shoulder to shoulder with Israelis and Palestinians who will attend Avi's funeral. This was a cruel senseless murder of a man who epitomized the hope for coexistence.
Slow moving and trusting, Avi would have been the easiest of targets.
The militants of Yasser Arafat's Fatah kill mockingbirds at close range and with a devastating cruelty.
This is the face of terror and it is intolerable.
Postscript: Avi entered Bethlehem with a Palestinian friend and was stopped at a Palestinian police checkpoint. In front of police, PLO terrorists removed the Palestinian forcibly from the car, forced Avi to drive off. The Palestinian friend contacted the Israeli army, who called the Palestinian police to verify the information. Palestinian police lied, denying all knowledge. Avi's body was found in a Palestinian controlled village of Beit Sahur. His body was riddled with 20 bullets shot at point-blank range.
Another victory for the "heroes" of Palestinian "resistance", those brave souls who target unarmed cripples, women and children. The same day they shot two women on their way to a wedding in Jerusalem, after stopping the car and talking to them. One was killed. She was a 42-year old mother of two.