'Let World Deal With Images'

Minister stands behind decision to publish explicit photos of terror attack aftermath, hoping to influence global public opinion. Meanwhile Fogel family mourns: Time to rise up beyond left, right, religious, and secular, says brother.

Published: March 14th 2011
in News » Israel

The Fogal house after the massacre

The debate over the publication of pictures from the scene of the massacre in Itamar, which include explicit pictures of the murdered children's bodies, continues: Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein said Monday, "I want journalists and editorial staff to deal with those pictures." He added that the shocking pictures of the five murder victims may influence global public opinion.


The committee discussed Israel's information distribution issue in an era of social networks. At the center of the debate is the ministry's dilemma over whether to publish the heartrending photos of the bodies of the five victims – parents Ruthie and Udi and three of their six children – Yoav (11), Elad (4) and baby Hadas.


During the debate the minister explained why he believes the pictures should be published. "Let those who already have a fixed image of the conflict between the countries or the nations who can't seem to reach an agreement over a piece of land see the pictures of the three month old baby; maybe then they will understand that their image is distorted.


"We all hope and pray that we will never need to expose ourselves to these pictures, but if heaven forbid there are more events like these in the future – we will know how to handle it."


Explaining how he reached the decision to publish the photos the minister added: "I have often been asked why we are so sterile in the information we share. At some point the events accumulate and though we have personally been exposed to unmentionable horrors, everyone has that point that gets them.


"The decision wasn't an easy one, without the family's consent we would never have even considered the issue. The family said yes – under certain conditions."


Knesset member Nachman Shai (Kadima) also addressed the issue. "The pictures could have been released," he said. "But it seems that the decision derives from hysterical and quick decisions to situations, since there is no planning or consideration and since the government is dragged into things instead of initiating – both with the pictures and the decision to build.


"Israel has no policy, it just responds to events without deliberation or strategic planning. The pictures were forced on the government because they leaked out and the construction decision is causing global criticism which damages the affect of the terror attack."


Former Minister Isaac Herzog also disagreed with Edelstein's decision, saying it "weakens" Israel. "The decision to publish the photos broadcasts panic and leads to disrespect for the grief," he said. The fact that the photos are being published right after Israel announced the approval of more construction in the West Bank "creates confusion", he added.


'Children our greatest comfort'


Meanwhile, in spite of unimaginable pain and grief following the loss of five family members in one murderous and brutal strike, the Ben-Yishai home in Jerusalem was filled with restraint. Here, Ruthie's parents and siblings sit shiva (seven days of mourning) side by side with the Ruthie and Udi's children – Tamar, Roi and Yishai - the only survivors in the horrific weekend attack.


Family and friends come in a never-ending stream to pay their last respects to a very special family. Three of Ruthie's brothers told Ynet of dealing with the incomprehensible loss. "We were nine siblings, now after Ruthie's murder, three more siblings join our family, Ruthie and Udi's children," one of the brothers said.


According to the siblings their mother will now be raising the three surviving orphans. "They are the sweetest children and being able to sit Shiva with them is our greatest comfort," said Hillel, one of the brothers.


Related articles: (Fogal, Murder, Yuli Edelstein, )

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