Palestinian brings terror to Jaffa Road

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 2, 2008

A six-month-old baby was saved by two passers-by on Wednesday moments after her mother was crushed to death as a Palestinian terrorist drove a bulldozer into Jerusalem traffic.

The mother, Bat Sheva Unterman, was one of three people murdered by 31-year-old construction worker Husam Dwiat in a bloody rampage.

Moments before Dwiat drove his bulldozer for a second time at Mrs Unterman’s green Hyundai, almost flattening it, two men snatched Efrat unharmed from the passenger seat. Efrat, the great-granddaughter of Rabbi Isser Yehuda Unterman, who served for 22 years as the rabbi of Liverpool before being appointed the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and then of Israel, was taken to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital and then to an emergency foster family where she spent four hours.

“She was very calm and didn’t even cry,” said Amalia Oren, head of the hospital’s social unit.

At half past seven in the evening, she was reunited with her father, British-born Ido Unterman, at the home of Bat Sheva’s parents in the Bayit Vegan neighbourhood. Mr Unterman was then driven to Tel Aviv to identify his wife’s body. The funeral was held just hours later.

Bat Sheva Unterman (née Lubenstein) was a 33-year-old kindergarten teacher, the second of three daughters, born in Jerusalem to parents who had emigrated from Holland. Friends and neighbours at the couple’s home on Sokolov Street in central Jerusalem spoke about a devoted and patient teacher and a couple who had tried for years to have a baby, never losing faith.

“For years, the children of the kindergarten were like her children,” said Meira Schwartz, a friend whose own children had attended Bat Sheva’s kindergarten.

The other Israelis killed before Dwiat was finally shot dead by policemen and soldiers were 54-year old mother of three Elizabeth (Lili) Goren, a veteran teacher at the Jerusalem School for the Blind, who was also buried on Wednesday night.

The third victim was 68-year old Jean Relevy, an air-conditioning technician who had emigrated to Israel from Iran.

Dwiat, a worker at a nearby building  site, crushed their cars on his route of mayhem up the Jaffa Road, which ended only after he was repeatedly shot, the vehicle coming to a stop on top of Mrs Unterman’s car. More than 50 people were wounded, two of them severely, most of them in a packed number 13 bus, which had been tipped over by the bulldozer.

Dwiat lived in the south-east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Tzur Baher, across the Green Line, and was an Israeli citizen. There is no evidence of his ever being a member of one of the Palestinian organisations or that his attack was in any way planned or premeditated. Israeli politicians, ranging from Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, called for the murderer’s home to be demolished.

“We have no way to fence in the Arabs of East Jerusalem and every house of potential terrorist,” said Mr Olmert after the attack. “We have to stop the terror attacks by Arabs of East Jerusalem, and if we have to do that by deterring them or demolishing a house, it will be done.”

Three months ago, eight students of the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva were murdered by a man from the Jabel Mukaber neighbourhood in south-east Jerusalem.

Mayor Lupolianski vowed on Wednesday that, this time, the murderer’s family would not be allowed to set up a mourners’ tent and hang Hamas flags around their house.

Last updated: 9:45am, July 8 2008



Wed, 07/02/2008 - 21:25

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I was just at the funeral of one of the victims, Batsheva Unterman. Hundreds of people but no eulogies because of Rosh Chodesh. Large Anglo contigent as widower, Ido, is from London.


Fri, 07/04/2008 - 15:57

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All our media jumped immediately to report this as a terror attack. Whilst obviously terrifying, criminal and lethal (and I send my condolences to the bereaved families, who must now live with their tragic losses - not least a new baby now growing up without her mother), it appears from today's Jerusalem Post and on TV last night that this was NOT a terror attack. And yet the Prime Minister and Defence Minister rush to demolish the family home: an illegal collective punishment; the IDF stopped punitive demolitions years ago because they discovered it is counter-productive - i.e. it causes more hatred, grievances and revenge feelings than it is worth. Oh for leadership and a calm head, good judgment and spiritual values that do Judaism justice. Instead of... We really have to stop the knee jerk response that goes for instant revenge before checking the facts (not to mention immediately killing the man instead of immobilising him.... this is happening regularly and is extremely worrying). One act of violence shouldn't be followed by another. Clearly this man was mentally unstable, with a criminal background -- a drug addict who had lived for many years with a Jewish girlfriend. Like the shooting in Hungerford some years back - it's utterly tragic. The man's family have apologised and sent their condolences; they should not be punished for the sins of their son.. Human rights are at the heart of the Jewish soul and moral ethos that is Judaism.. I sincerely hope those in the diaspora will use your influence - call on the Israeli government to act with restraint. This one act should not be exploited to justify exercising unpleasant policies of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. Many of us like our Arab neighbours, get on just fine with them (most are perfectly normal people) and want to keep them. Some of us even want to SHARE Jerusalem, as our gesture of peace towards our neighbours. Cold, closed, angry, covetous and hard hearts will never make peace and bring us the security we deserve. Even our enemies are G-d's creation. But we forget that, all too often. Peacemaking requires a totally different mindset, which - tragically - Israel is not exploring. And so we continue with war, death, destruction, demolition, revenge, blaming and not conducting Tikkun Olam. So sad to see such an amazing country as Israel keep hitting the self-defeat button. (Maybe a new American administration will be less hawkish and warmongering...b'ezrat...)


Sat, 07/05/2008 - 07:44

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It is interesting to note that the JC's reporter uses the term "terrorist" in his first sentence. Even the Israeli media (and the police) have been careful to avoid this immediate label before proper clarification. Horrible as the incident is, many of us question the dubious morality of some of our ministers and commentators (far from all) who immediately respond with "demolish his house." His family are in no way to blame for the incident. Further, all the research (and there is plenty) shows that collective punishments of the innocent do not deter future terror actions. If anything, they encourage the fanatics (on both sides) even more. What the "demolish his house" punishment does do is that it places us as a nation firmly in the club of those who we resented over the centuries for their fictitious collective punishments. It is time that both sides concentrate on making the peace that will let our two peoples live side by side without being deterred by aberrant incidents "perpetrated" by a handful of individuals -- let us not forget -- on both sides. Louis Williams, Jaffa