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The Public Face of Private Grief

It’s been a year since Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank, but Sari Makover-Belikov at Yedioth Ahronot explores how for their parents, the pain is still very fresh:

Iris Yifrach believed with all her heart that her son, Eyal, would return home alive. In June last year, the entire country was waiting for news of the three teenage boys abducted in the West Bank, and many were expecting the worst – but a calm and stubborn Iris was convinced that her son would return, and open the door, and call out loud to her, and tease her, and tell her all was fine, and ask her why she had been so worried.

“People said I was naïve, innocent, blind, but I didn’t care,” Iris says today. “Because knowing that everything would turn out well in the end helped me to get up in the morning. It was so tangible. It kept me going. That’s how I was living then.”

It’s been a year since the abduction and murder of the three teenage boys – Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach – and Iris is now slowly coming to terms with the harsh reality.

“There’s an incomprehensible divide between what the brain understands and what the heart accepts,” Iris says with a wry smile. “I truly sense this conflict between them. My brain tells me that my son won’t be coming home, but my heart rebels and refuses to cooperate.”

Rachel Frenkel and Bat-Galim Shaer are fighting the same battle.

“Naftali is in my prayers,” Rachel says. “I don’t talk to him; but when our eldest son went on a school trip, his guide asked us to write him a letter to take with. It was very meaningful to write to the children like that, with an open heart. So I decided two days ago to write a letter like that to Naftali too.”

“And I talk to him all the time; I’m a real busybody mother,” Bat-Galim says tearfully. “I ask him to watch over us, and I ask God to watch over Gil-Ad for me, to make sure he’s doing ok up there.” …

“In the beginning, I had a physical pain in my heart, a real burning, no matter what I did and what I said,” Bat-Galim says.

“Gilad made himself heard all the time, and only recently have I managed to have a few moments in the day without thinking about him. Even with the physical pain, you can begin living a little. The change is very slow and gradual. There are still harsh bouts of longing and you remember things all the time. You need to find a balance so that you can continue to function. I don’t know if I have found this balance; in fact, I know I haven’t reached there yet, but there has been a slight shift of late at least.”

Tags: Middle East Unrest , Israel

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