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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Former Gush Katif resident and terror victim awarded $48 million in US lawsuit

Al-AP is reporting this morning that Moshe Saperstein, an American citizen and a former resident of Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif who was badly wounded in a February 2002 terror attack, has been awarded $16 million by a federal jury in the United States. By law, the award is tripled to $48 million.

You will note, as you read the article below, that the politically correct Al-AP did not want to tell you that the terror attack took place in the Gaza Strip and that Moshe Saperstein is one of the Jews who was expelled from Gush Katif in 2005.
According to court documents, Saperstein was attacked by gunmen who sprayed his car with AK47 rounds, wounding him in the hand.

An Israeli citizen traveling in a separate car, lawyer Ahuva Amergi, died in the attack, as did two Israeli soldiers who responded to the gunfire.

``Justice is served,'' said Saperstein's wife, Rachel Saperstein. ``Now, the fight begins.''

The Sapersteins' attorney, Robert Josefsberg, said he will work to identify potential Palestinian assets in the United States, Israel and elsewhere to satisfy the judgment.

``We're going to just look at every possibility,'' Josefsberg said.

Lawyers for the Palestinian organizations did contest the lawsuit on procedural grounds - including a claim that the Palestinian Authority and PLO were immune as a sovereign state - but withdrew after losing those rounds, leading to the default judgment.

One of those lawyers was former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Attempts to reach Clark and his partner, Lawrence W. Schilling, by telephone Wednesday were not successful.

A PLO spokesman in Washington, Nabil Abuznaid, said there are about 10 other similar lawsuits pending in the United States. Abuznaid said the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a war that should not be fought in American courtrooms.

``It's unfair and unfortunate. These are political situations and they should not come with judgments like that. These are situations outside this country in a war,'' said Abuznaid, deputy chief of the PLO mission in Washington.
I happen to have in my old mailing list files the original Jerusalem Post account of that terror attack, which took place on February 18, 2002. The link no longer works, so here it is:
Terrorists kill four in two attacks
By Margot Dudkevitch

JERUSALEM (February 19) - Within the space of two hours, two soldiers, a policeman, and a civilian were killed and four others wounded in terrorist attacks yesterday evening.

One occurred at the entrance to Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip and the other on Route 1 between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim.

One of the soldiers was identified as Maj. Mor Yehuda Elraz, 25, of Kiryat Ata, a company commander in the Givati Brigade. He will be buried at 3 p.m. in his hometown.

The second soldier killed yesterday was St.-Sgt. Amir Mansuri, 21, of Kiryat Arba. Mansuri will be buried in Jerusalem's military cemetery on Mount Herzl at 3:15 p.m.

The terrorists in both incidents, identified as Muhammad al-Kasir, 19, of Rafah, and Yasser Odeh, 32, from a village south of Bethlehem, were killed. Fatah's Aksa Brigade claimed responsibility for both incidents.

Close to 7 p.m. in Gush Katif, Kasir fired at two vehicles, killing Ahuva Amergi of Ganei Tal and seriously wounding Moshe Saperstein of Neveh Dekalim.

As soldiers arrived, a gun battle ensued. Kasir also threw grenades before he was shot and killed. Two soldiers were killed and two lightly wounded by gunfire. All the wounded were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.


Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, blaming the Palestinian Authority for the escalation, held high-level consultations late last night to discuss a response.

"I intend to deliver the hardest of blows to the terrorist groups, in the hope that one day, possibly, there will also be people with whom we can talk," Sharon said.

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat made a victory sign in an appearance before schoolchildren in Ramallah.

"This people is mighty and steadfast and together we will reach Jerusalem," Arafat said.

Near Morag in Gush Katif, troops scoured the surrounding area after spotting two armed terrorists near the hothouses and opening fire, killing one and wounding another. Sappers inspected the terrorist's body and defused a number of grenades.

Area commander Col. Guy said the terrorist came in under cover of the fields and buildings, lay at the roadside, and opened fire at the two vehicles. The terrorist was affiliated with the People's Democratic Front, he said.

Avner Shimoni, head of the Gaza Coast Regional Council, said "the council's emergency teams are deployed in all the communities, and other teams are tending the wounded and assisting the families. We will respond in a fitting manner by strengthening our communities and building and developing them."

Amergi, a lawyer who worked in Ashkelon, was returning home. She and her husband Rafi have two small sons.

Her funeral procession will depart at 2 p.m. from the Ganei Tal synagogue and head towards the Gush Katif regional cemetery.
Moshe - whom I have never met - is a very special individual. Here's what Mara - whom I have also never met - wrote about him on the night of the attack (at the time I got it from Harvey in Efrat) [To save time, I have not corrected any of the spelling or punctuation. Five years ago, I cut and pasted these emails into my email update, and while I cleaned the formatting a bit when I put them into this blog, correcting spelling and punctuation would have added an hour to this post. Sorry! CiJ]:
dear friends: many of you are recipients of emails from Moshe Saperstein, my longtime dear friend, in Neve Dekalim in Gaza. Moshe was seriously wounded in today's latest arab suicide attack on a civilian car at the entrance to Gush Katif (Gaza), as he was returning from a shopping trip to Ashkelon. Having lost his right arm in the Yom Kippur War, Moshe has adapted over the years -- and now he has lost fingers on his (one) good hand. as i write this, it is around 4 a.m. in israel and he is still in surgery in Beersheva as the surgeons try to re-attach the fingers. he was shot in the hand and in the leg, according to his wife, Rachel, with whom i just spoke. she had managed to call moshe on his cell phone and, somehow, he answered, "I'm shot!" Neighborhs quickly came to the house but the road out of Gush Katif was closed for another hour, she Rachel was delayed in getting to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. she [It was missing in the original too. CiJ]

A terrific son, husband, father (3) and grandfather (8), Moshe is a true hero of the Jewish People. A writer, musicologist (largest collection of classical music in israel), mensch, a great friend....may HASHEM grant him a speedy recovery. please pray for the health of MOSHE BEN SHOSHANA.
By April 7, 2002, Moshe had recovered sufficiently to write this account of the terror attack (I have bolded a few things that did not appear that way in the original). By the way, this came from Judy Lash Balint's Jerusalem Diaries email list, which - you guessed it - has become a blog:

For those of you who don't know why I haven't written in well over a month, it is because, on the evening of 18 February, I had a CLOSE ENCOUNTER of the horrible kind with a peace loving Islamic militant, outraged that Jews should dare occupy land given to them in the Bible. Gory details will follow.

To those of you who have prayed for me, thank you. To those of you who thought of praying for me, but never quite got around to it, thank you. To those of you who had a kind thought for me, now and again, thank you. To those of you who feel sorry for me, no thanks. I admit that in the hours before dawn I occassionally give way to self-pity, but not very often, and I'll be damned if anyone else has to feel sorry for me.

Who was it who said 'tragedy is always replayed as farce'? If this letter had been started just a few weeks ago the prose would probably be sodden with tears because there was a point when I was doing a lot of crying. Fortunately for you, that period has passed and I can now treat a minor incident with the levity it deserves. You may note that my prose is somehow different. This is because I am still severely digitally-challenged and am dictating to a good friend. At present I have three heavily bandaged fingers and one damaged, but unbandaged, thumb. I have attempted to type with the thumb, but without success.

(You know that my forebearers were Polish so you will understand that my thumb is presently trapped up one of my nostrils. Because the government spares no expense at caring for its heros, they have arranged for skilled operatives to be flown in from the Warszawa Nostrilnosc Hospital and Kielbasa Factory to perform the delicate task of clearing my snout.) Eventually I will be getting a voice-operated computer and then G-d pity you all.

A word about what happened. Some of you have already read descriptions of the event. I have read descriptions of the event and they bear little resemblance to what actually happened. The various newspaper descriptions plus radio and internet reports depict an heroic act. I wish it were so. I feel very uncomfortable about disappointing so many of you who have begun to think of me as Moshe Rambosky. Just know that it is sufficient to me that I did not embarrass myself.

There was a time when I thought of collating the various descriptions of my supposed exploit and adopting the one that made me look best. Then I was just sorry that I didn't pretend to have a blackout of the entire event, allowing people to believe whatever they felt like believing. The truth is, that I acted in an uncharacteristic way which simultaneously makes me swell with pride and shrivel with embarrassment. The compliment that meant the most to me came from some guy who showed up at my bedside in the hospital, reminded me that we had served together during the Yom Kippur War, and said "when I read the description of what you had done, I figured it must be another Moshe Saperstein, because the guy I remember couldn't have done that".

OK. The event to the best of my recollection:

Monday evening, February 18th, Rachel and I were watching the news which was filled with reports of attacks on roads throughout the country. I had been planning to drive to Ashkelon to do shopping the following day but these reports, combined with bad case of cabin fever, put me on my high horse and I started declaiming on the Zionist Imparitive" of getting in the car and going for a ride. Thus do the stupid get into trouble. Rachel gave me a list of what to buy, I got into the car, lit my cigar, turned music up full blast, and set off. At this hour - it was now about 7 pm - there were no hitchhikers so I turned the music up really loud and puffed away like the Chatanugo ChuChu. (For those who care, the music was "Enter Spring" by the British composer Frank Bridge, one my obscure favorites.)

I was, I thought, alone on the road. It was dark and I was on the last lap through Indian Territory about a kilometer and a half from the Kissufim checkpost. My headlights picked up a car that seemed to have stopped at the side of the road. I thought this unusual, as no one stops on this road unless they are forced to by some technical problem. I slowed up as I approached the vehicle, intending to offer assistance if necessary. Just as I drew abreast of it, I was hit by a burst from a Kalashnokov AK47 machine gun. The shooter must have been hiding in darkness on the other side of the road. There were four bullets, two hit me in the hand and one in the leg.

(A mystery: the car has been repaired and returned to us. We were told that there were over a dozen bullet holes. I do not recall anything other than that burst of four. Either the car was used for target practice later or the Bullet Fairy came by spreading largesse without my being aware.) My car rolled on for a few yards and stopped. I assume I was in shock but I was both awake and aware. I was in excrutiating pain from my leg but felt nothing from my hand. I looked at what remains of my hand.

My first thought - and I apologize to my many Christian friends for who what I'm about to say may seem offensive - was the stigmata of Jesus Christ. The palm of my hand had been blown away. One could have put a tennis ball through it, though given my pention for exageration, I should have said a golf ball. I was looking at the back of my hand and so I could see that my thumb was in tact; my index finger was damaged, it looked like a hot dog that had been on the boil for too long with the skin flayed, but I knew it was alright because I was able to bend it. My middle and ring fingers were gone, my pinky appeared to be intact. Except for the pain in my leg, I felt nothing. I felt no emotion. Unlike 28 years earlier when I lost my right arm in the Yom Kippur War, and under went a series of emotional, even spiritual upheavals, which you may be unfortunate enough to read about in a future letter, I felt nothing. Not even fear. It was as if I were an observer, detached from what I was observing.

Unbenounced to me, an army jeep with an officer and a driver, had been a few hundred yards behind me. They raced to the scene, pulled up directly behind me, and came out of their vehicle. They ran towards me and one of them said "we'll protect you". There was a burst of gun fire and they both fell along side my car. At this point the shooter appeared from the darkness.

He was wearing the uniform of the Palestinian Police. He walked up to the two soldiers laying on the ground. He paused to look at me. We stared at each other. He had no expression on his face and he looked like Geraldo Rivera. He turned from me and proceeded to shoot each of the downed soldiers in the head. He then turned back to me. We stared at teach other again. He was standing in front of my car, caught in my headlights. Behind him there was a guard rail. We stared at each other. I suddenly was overcome with emotion. It was not fear, it was hatred. I never, ever, felt the degree of anger and hatred that I felt towards him at that moment. I wanted to kill him.

Kill is the wrong word. I wanted to pulverize him. I wanted to erase the son of a bitch from this earth.

(Shortly after leaving the hospital, at home, I woke up in the middle of the night and walked into the kitchen. I turned on the light and saw what appeared to be a large brown bug on the floor. I was suddenly taken back to the scene in the car and was again flooded with the emotion of hatred. I stepped on the bug and kept mashing it into the floor until Rachel came out and stopped me. I then realized that instead of a bug, it was a large chocolate chip and I had smeared it half across the kitchen floor. Poor Rachel.)

The car was idling. The shooter held a hand grenade in one hand and his AK-47 in the other. We stared at each other. With an elegance - I know it seems an absurd word, but it's the only one that fits - and nonchalance that would do credit to Saladin and his other forbearers, he flipped the hand grenade at me.

I watched it come towards me with total indifference. It hit the roof of the car directly above my head, made a dull noise, and rolled off the back of the car without exploding. He then raised the AK-47 and aimed at me. At this point in fury and frustration, I pressed my good foot on the gas pedal. The car shot forward directly at him.

He was surprised but agile and was able to move fast enough so that I did not get him dead center and mash him against the guard rail. Instead, I had merely given him a glancing blow, which knocked him off balance. He bounced off the guard rail, picked himself up and calmly walked to the side of the car. We stared at each other again.

I suspect that I had succeeded in really pissing him off because what he should have done was to go back into the darkness and wait for his next victim. Instead, he stood in the roadway, exposed, determined to finish me off. He raised the AK-47; I looked down the barrel. I felt no emotion.

There were shots. He was apparently so intent on me that he hadn't heard other jeeps driving up. A soldier had opened fire and wounded him and another grenade which he had, exploded on him, finishing him off. The soldier who wounded him was injured by the explosion and I am amazed that I, who was even closer than the soldier had been, received no further injury.

(This is the type of incredible coincidence which is common in Israel. The young soldier who shot him and saved my life, and who may lose an eye from the explosion, is connected to me in a strange way. He is a distant relative of my closest friend, Arthur Evner, who died some two years ago. The boy was at Arthur's funeral when I delivered the eulogy.)

Things now get foggy. There was more shooting, though I don't know at what. I suspect soldiers were simply shooting into darkness on both sides of the road in case there might have been a second and third shooter. Four soldiers, in full battle dress, crouched near my car assuring me that they would protect me. Except for the pain in my leg, which was really excruciating, all I felt was embarrassment that these children were putting themselves on the line for me. An army medic approached me, started to bandage my hand and then my leg. Some time passed, I have no idea how much time.

Civilian faces appeared out of the darkness and stared at me. Some of them were neighbors and I said "Don't tell Rachel. I will tell her." I was approached again by a medic and told him that I was fine and that he should busy himself with the other wounded. It was not until a day or two later that I learned that the car at the side of the road contained the body of a beautiful 30 year-old mother of two. (I have her picture in my room and I say without irony or bullshit, that if given the choice I would not have hesitated to trade places with her.)

A new face appeared telling me that I was to be put on a stretcher and carried to an ambulance a short distance away. I said that I would walk to the ambulance. This was incredibly stupid on my part as I had no idea how serious my leg injury was but I did it, leaning on two soldiers who half supported me to the ambulance.

Once in the ambulance my cellphone rang. It was Rachel, she had heard that there had been a shooting incident and that there were dead and wounded and knew that I was on the road. I told her that I had been wounded but it wasn't serious and that I was already in an ambulance on the way to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva. Apparently my voice was still very strong and she was reassured. In any case, and this is worthy of volumes in itself, Rachel is the heroine of the whole story. She had gone through it 28 years before and has now gone through it again, and has been magnificant throughout.

There is so much more that I have to write, but I am exhausted now and my typists' fingers are shorter by at least half an inch. So I just want to close with one last incident, which brings me to the hospital.

Throughout this entire event, I never once felt fear until I was in the ambulance to Soroka. The medic sitting next to me spent the entire time - 40 or 50 minutes - shrieking at the top of his voice at the driver "You mainiac !!! Be careful, you're about to hit that car, you're about to this, you're about to that."

I was seized with such a fright that I would have survived the shooting only to die in a crash on the way to the hospital that I kept repeating "Sh'ma Yisroel" over and over until the ambulance finally disgorged me at the hospital entrance.

Good Night. G-d bless you all.

Moshe Saperstein, Neve Dekalim
Moshe Saperstein is one tough dude. $48 million isn't enough money. But it's a start.


At 2:18 PM, Blogger treppenwitz said...

Thank you for sharing this... especially his first hand account of the events.

BTW, I think that when the author wrote 'Chatanugo ChuChu' he was going for 'Chattanooga Choo Choo', the 1941 Glenn Miller Gold Record.


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