This Thursday, the seventh day of the ceasefire, was a bloody one in Israel.
Aya Abu Hagag, a 24-year-old pregnant woman, was bringing her children to nursery school. She was brutally stabbed to death by a masked male, on a busy corner, in broad daylight. She lived in Lod. The medical team tried to save her fetus, with no success. Two men have been detained.
A young woman, the same age as Aya, Livia Dickman, was waiting for a bus at the entrance to Jerusalem together with Elimelech Wasserman and Hannah Ifergan, when gunmen opened fire. Livia was pregnant, as well. She lived in Jerusalem and was a preschool teacher in Beit Shemesh. Several others were wounded, some seriously. The gunmen, known to be members of Hamas, were shot dead.
These killings are a stark reminder that eliminating Hamas in Gaza will not stop the killing. We cannot slay all the potential murderers. We can only work on reducing the culture of violence, on the cycles that feed on hate and ideas of self-sacrifice and the expendability of women.
It seems almost absurd, when so many have died, when today’s hostage release will include bodies, to cry about the continual undercurrent of violence that took the lives of Aya and Livia. They died of the sort of violence we have grown used to: another woman killed in Lod, another three in a drive-by terrorist attack. The terrorists were “neutralized,” the woman’s killers detained. Until the next incidence.
Aya’s death was caught on security cameras. A woman dressed in white is on the asphalt trying to scramble away while a man in black, with black cloth covering everything but his eyes, repeatedly raises his arm and brings down the knife in his hand into her body. That image will not be leaving my mind soon. Her death was horrific; she died in sight of her children. There is no sound on the camera’s image, but it doesn’t take much to hear the screams. To feel the fear of passerby who called an ambulance, but were helpless to intervene.
It’s true, we are daily exposed to the horror – of the attacks of Oct, 7, as well as scenes of destruction in Gaza. The numbers of dead are beyond our grasp, we cannot encompass them all.
But today, I will mourn Aya, killed because she was a woman, and Livia, killed because she was a Jew. Two young women, two unborn children, who lost their lives to violence in the middle of a ceasefire.
May their memories be blessed.