‘Try saying, uncle won’t come back’
Haifa mother describes the horror of losing her son in a suspected terror attack
THE MOTHER of a British-Israeli man killed in a suspected terror attack in Haifa last month has described the horrifying day she discovered her son was dead.
Bertha Cafrey, who made aliyah from London in 1973, recalled how her 47-year-old son, Guy, phoned her at 10.30am, “and by 10.33 he was dead”.
One of the hardest parts, she said, has been explaining the loss to her daughter’s children, who live in the same moshav as her, Ofer, which is near Haifa.
“You can imagine trying to explain to six and eight-year-old grandchildren why their uncle who used to throw them in the air and laugh and bring them balloons every week doesn’t come any more.”
At one point during the interview she said: “I don’t know how I’m even talking to you without crying. I feel like I keep going and I’m going to crash.”
London-born Mr Cafrey, a Haifa resident, was killed when a gunman went on the rampage in the city last month. The attack, which was initially thought to be gang-related, also left Yechiel Illouz, a 48-year-old rabbi, badly injured.
Prosecutors in the case — which has come to court — now believe that the attack was terrorist in nature, a view based on allegations that the suspect’s girlfriend had teased him that he was a “Jew lover” just before the killing took place.
Mrs Cafrey said: “We were absolutely sure there was no criminal case that Guy was caught up in.”
She continued: “He was a peace lover. You couldn’t quarrel with him; it wasn’t an option.”
Mr Cafrey carried an organ donor card, and his parents wanted his organs to be used. His corneas have been transplanted, but, his mother said, “nothing else was donate-able as he had three bullets in the chest from blank range.”
Mrs Cafrey has been overwhelmed by support from friends and relations in Israel, where she is a stalwart of an English-speaking theatre group, and in England, where her brother, Julian Lax, a well-known art dealer who was killed in a road accident in 2004.
Mrs Cafrey added that five years ago, her son had given up a job in computers to work as a minibus driver for alzheimer sufferers and disabled children. “He had a great affinity with children,” she said, recalling the “beautiful stories” she has heard about him since his death.
Just before Mr Cafrey died, a very withdrawn child reported to his parents that he felt special after Guy called him a “champion”.
The city of Haifa, where Jews and Arabs normally coexist peacefully, has been shaken by the case.
Mrs Cafrey said she came from a family that lost members in the Holocaust and in her view, the hate that lay behind the Shoah was the same as the feelings harboured by her son’s killer.
She said her tragedy underscored that terror should be condemned in the same way worldwide wherever it takes place.
“If people are demonstrating in London saying ‘we are Paris’, they can also say ‘we are Haifa’.”
You could not quarrel with him. That was not an option’
Guy Cafrey, killed last month in a gun rampage in Haifa, with his nephew