The happiest day in the life of Ahmed Jabari, the man taken out by IDF fighter pilots as part of the opening shots of Operation Pillar of Defense, was the day the deal for the release of Gilad Shalit was finalized, his widow Umm Mohammed recalled.
According to her, Jabari managed to fulfill the three goals he had set for his life: Leaving a strong army behind him, finding a solution for the Palestinian prisoners and going on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the last of which he completed very shortly before his death.
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However, according to the widow, the day he managed to secure the release of some 1,000 prisoners in return for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was the happiest in his life. "I found him happier than on our wedding day," she said.
Umm Mohammed described the fear she felt when the escalation began last week, before her husband was killed. She recalled asking him not to go outdoors, but he had laughed and said: "Umm, if I die a martyr's death, then it will be a great mercy in these times."
Jabari with Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, after Shalit deal (Photo: EPA)
Jabari's funeral in Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
Jabari's car not long after his assasination (Photo: Reuters)
She spoke of her feelings after his death, recalling the moment they last saw each other. According to her, at the moment of departure he lifted his hand and in it was a small Koran. "I saw him open his eyes and smile at me," she said.
Umm Mohammed describes her husband as a man who did not know the meaning of fear. "He did not fear Israeli weapons or war planes. When he would hear an F-16 he would ignore its presence, acting as if it didn't exist."
A good father
In terms of his personality she said "he was a man like all men," "modest" and with none of the egoistic mannerisms one assumes a leader would have. "He loved people very much. He was a good husband and a merciful father," she added.
The widow spoke of how Jabari recently returned from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, carrying presents for all of his friends and neighbors, as if he knew these would be the last souvenirs they would have of him.
"I went down to the market with him and saw how he wanted to give gifts to each acquaintance and relative. He didn’t forget a single one," she recalled, adding that a short while before his death he hosted a large dinner at their house.
"He greeted so many guests. But this was not in fact a reception, but rather a goodbye."
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org