As Attacks Mount, Israelis Describe Lives Lost And Families Shattered : Parallels Several recent Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks recount the violence and how it is fueling tensions in the long-running conflict.
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As Attacks Mount, Israelis Describe Lives Lost And Families Shattered

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As Attacks Mount, Israelis Describe Lives Lost And Families Shattered

As Attacks Mount, Israelis Describe Lives Lost And Families Shattered

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Israel and the West Bank, the number of dead keeps rising - at least nine Israelis killed in a spate of attacks by Palestinians and more than 40 Palestinians, some killed as they carried out the attacks. NPR's Emily Harris has been talking to Israelis and found lost lives and shaken beliefs.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: On a Saturday evening two weeks ago, Odel Bennett and her husband, Aharon, walked through this passage in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem's old city.

They had taken their two young children to pray at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. The family was going to her parents' home when a Palestinian man attacked the couple with knives.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ODEL BENNETT: (Screaming).

HARRIS: Odel Bennett's screams for help were caught on amateur video. Bennett was stabbed 17 times. Her husband and a rabbi who came to help were killed. Bennett is now out of the hospital but still far from healed. The 22-year-old remembers running for help with a knife still stuck in her shoulder.

BENNETT: (Speaking Hebrew).

HARRIS: She said that as she ran, she saw many Palestinians. She was looking for someone who would help her, but no one did. The opposite, she said. They yelled at me. They spat at me. They cursed me to die. Bennett looks calm as she recuperates with their children, but she says she has no strength.

BENNETT: (Speaking Hebrew).

HARRIS: She says the family is destroyed. She faces months of rehabilitation, and her husband was the sole provider. "The truth is we are shattered," she said, "and we don't know how to collect all of our pieces." Bennett and her husband were the first victims in the recent knife attacks by Palestinians. Since then, a wave of loss has rippled through many lives.

On the eighth floor of a Jerusalem hospital, Menashe Haim breaks away from visiting his mother just out of intensive care. She and his father were on a Jerusalem bus when two Palestinians attacked with knives and a gun last week. Haim's father was killed.

MENASHE HAIM: He was shot. My mom was shot also in her elbow and her chest. And she told me that she tried to find the cell phone of my father - try to call the police. And she told us that it was obvious for her that Dad wouldn't make it.

HARRIS: It was difficult for Haim to tell his 11-year-old daughter how her grandfather had died.

HAIM: She asked, why; why did they do this? So I didn't have any answer.

HARRIS: Haim's parents came to Israel when they were young, Jewish immigrants from Iraq. Haim says they worked hard - his dad as a builder, his mom raising kids and cleaning other people's homes. Haim works for Intel with Arab colleagues. His parents never taught him Arabic although it was their native tongue.

HAIM: They never taught us Arabic. They told us, you are here in Israel, and your language is Hebrew. And there is no need to know Arabic. You know, it's a pity because we know that parts of the Arabs are - they don't like us, you know (laughter). But we are here to stay, and we don't want them to go. We want to live with them in peace.

HARRIS: So does Noam Tzion. Palestinians have carried out two attacks within a mile of his home. Now he looks warily at every Arab on the street. Tzion puts these attacks into a wider context. He used to believe that Israelis and Palestinians shared enough values to negotiate an agreement satisfactory to both.

NOAM TZION: What I changed my mind about is I don't think that the issues that we have in Israel between Jews and Arabs are the result of a national conflict between Jewish nationality and Palestinian nationality.

HARRIS: You believe that...

TZION: I think the issues today are defined by radical Islam. And with radical Islam, there is no possibility of a solution of any kind.

HARRIS: Palestinian authority officials blame the lack of a peace process on Israeli policies, the same policies, they say, that have pushed young Palestinians to carry out attacks. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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