Several years ago during a ‘Combatants for Peace’ workshop, a Palestinian friend told a story: while sitting in a shop in Tulkarem, a friend had waved at him from a passing car. At that same moment there was a loud explosion. The car caught fire and the friend who had just waved was killed in ‘targeted killing’ from an Israeli army helicopter.
The story reminded Horwitz of a familiar feeling…He knew the same story. In 1990, his parents were on a trip in Egypt. Near Ismailia, a car overtook the bus they were traveling in, and opened fire. A grenade exploded under his father. His mother managed to drag him out, but only in time to see him take his final breath. Two days later, she brought the body of her husband back to Israel.
Avner’s father was, by all accounts, a good man. All who knew him loved him; but while he was a political left-winger by disposition, he was an urban planner by profession. His job was to work alongside Ariel Sharon in locating new settlement points. At the same time, he went to study Arabic in the belief that one should know the language of his neighbor.
This duality plagued Avner, until he could not deal with it anymore. After his father’s death he stopped going to Memorial Day ceremonies, unable to continue seeing war as a divine destiny. He knew his father’s death had been unnecessary.
Participating in the Israeli-Palestinian Alternative Memorial Day for the first time, Avner felt relieved. He was able to “breathe again” for the first time, reminded that things could be different.
In the Tel Aviv-Nablus group of Combatants for Peace, he found himself alongside other beavered people who believed in and shared his goals – and wished to release both sides from conflict. It was there that he told his personal story for the first time.
The man who pressed the trigger in that helicopter – and the man who threw the grenade are reflections of each other. Death is the responsibility of both parties, just as the struggle for peace is.