I first heard Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s name about 20 years ago, some time after the murder of IDF soldier Avi Sasportas. Ever since then, al-Mabhouh went off the radar screen, until he made his comeback two or three days ago as a lifeless body; a dead man.
The cries and shouts that emerged from this man of terror’s funeral in Damascus over the weekend took me back at once to memories of one of the most noble people I have ever seen in my life; a woman who I never saw cry: Rachel Sasportas, Avi’s mother.
If she did cry, and I have no doubt that her eyes were overwhelmed by tears, she must have done it behind closed doors. During daylight hours, she would walk to the officer of then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin with her head held up high; she was quiet and restrained, almost whispering.
“I have no news for you,” the defense minister kept on telling her 21 years ago. “Your son’s body has not yet been found.” And she, Avi’s mother, listened to every word attentively, as if looking for a hidden treasure, and only said: “I know. I’m certain that the IDF and other security forces are making every effort to find Avi. I trust you.”
She would also say something else: “If Avi is not alive, and I believe that he is not alive, do not trade living terrorists for his body.” She would say this, get up, and leave.
Her noble figure, distancing from us down the long corridor of building number 22 at the Defense Ministry, has remained etched in the memory of many of us. Her whispering voice still resonates among many of us. Yet there would never be tears in her eyes, as if she ordered herself to refrain from crying.
About 21 years have passed since the remains of IDF soldier Avi Sasportas’ body were found. His mother, Rachel, may have gone back to her daily routine – until last week. We assume that she has no more tears left.
Now, the time has come for Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s mother to cry. Yet we have no tissues left for her tears.