‘Try say­ing, un­cle won’t come back’

Haifa mother de­scribes the hor­ror of los­ing her son in a sus­pected ter­ror at­tack

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

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

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