As violence continues in the Gaza Strip, two families from opposite sides have found a common ground. According to a Facebook post from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the families of slain Israeli and Palestinian teenagers are comforting one another as they mourn the loss of their sons to terrorist attacks. Despite being two different nationalities, the families share the same grief.
Barkat wrote on Facebook that he helped facilitate the meeting of the two families through "an emotional and special telephone conversation." The mayor visited the family of Naftali Fraenkel, an Israeli teen who was allegedly kidnapped and murdered by Hamas members. During the visit at the Fraenkel residence, Barkat arranged a call with the family of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teen who was allegedly murdered by Israelis last week. His body was found beaten and burned in the Jerusalem forest.
Barkat said he had a phone conversation with Muhammad Abu Khdeir's father, Hussein. "At the end of the conversation, I suggested that Hussein ... and the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel talk to each other," Barkat wrote. "They agreed to my proposal and comforted each other."
While speaking with Hussein, Barkat said he condemned the "barbaric murder" of his teen son. "I pointed out that it is important to bring justice to the killers quickly and restore calm to the neighborhood and Jerusalem," Barkat wrote.
Barkat wasn't the only Jerusalem resident to help unite the two nationalities by paying condolences to both families. Palestinian residents of Hebron reportedly visited the Fraenkel family to comfort the mourning family members. The visit was organized by the Religious Council of Gush Etzion, and the Palestinians were driven to the Fraenkel residence by Rabbi Rafi Ostroff.
Several Palestinians told NRG news that they wanted to pay their respects to the family, because they also came from bereaved families.
"I think the lack of reconciliation in this region comes from a lack of coping with pain," a Palestinian man told the news source. "The moment we learn to deal with the pain of each other and stop with the anger at each other, things will be better."
The Palestinian visitors also echoed the words of Rachel Fraenkel, Naftali's mother: "The pain is pain, and we are all human." They added that the Fraenkel family was "amazing" and did not think twice about opening their doors.
Tensions came to head in the Gaza Strip last Monday after the bodies of the three missing Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, were discovered in a shallow grave more than two weeks after they were abducted. The teens were reportedly hitchhiking home after studying at Jewish seminaries near Hebron, a city in the West Bank. The three teenagers were buried together last Tuesday.
Muhammad Abu Khdeir was allegedly abducted and killed last Wednesday. His body was found in the Jerusalem forest later that day. According to BBC News, a post-mortem examination concluded that Khdeir was burned alive. Authorities speculated that the murder was a revenge attack on Palestine, and six Jewish Israeli suspects were arrested. Three of the suspects confessed to the murder on Monday, The Associated Press reported.
Image: Facebook/Nir Barkat