Pedaya Mark, the 15-year-old son of terror victim Rabbi Michael Mark, has recounted the terrible moment in which he saw his father murdered.
Pedaya's parents were out shopping before Shabbat, while Pedaya helped around the house. He then jumped into the pool and waited for his father and mother to bring him to his grandmother in Jerusalem for a condolence visit.
"They picked me up at 2:30 p.m.," he told Channel 2, in his first news interview. "About ten minutes after we left the community I heard a boom, gunshots and the windows shattering."
"We yelled 'get down!' and everyone ducked. Except for dad. He didn't duck," said Pedaya. "He stayed in order to hold the steering wheel and keep driving. I thought… I just don't want it to happen, I hoped we would all come out of it alive. Then the car rolled over one and a half times. I quickly released my seat belt and Tehilla got out of hers.
"I looked through the window and saw a car pull up," he said, describing the Palestinians who were the first people to help the family. "One of them tried to open the door and failed, then he called for more people. At first we were afraid that they were terrorists. My sister got out and then I left with her. She showed me that she was wounded and I told them she was hurt and that we need a phone."
During the commotion, Pedaya already understood that his parents were hurt and asked to call rescue services. "I called and said that they shot at us. Then, coincidentally, a patrol jeep and a Red Crescent ambulance arrived."
"My mom was already bandaged when they took her out. I saw that she was arranging the wrapping with her hand and so I knew she was alive. It took them a long time to get dad. I saw him lying on the road, his whole back covered in blood, and I saw someone checking his pulse. I saw and felt that… I don't know for certain, I preferred not to think about it."
At the same time, Pedaya's brother Natanel was serving as an IDF officer nearby. In the middle of a situation assessment meeting he received a notification about what had happened. He arrived at the scene within a few minutes, his mind was already running. "Every time there's a shooting attack in the area, I immediately start trying to account for where everyone is located and who is traveling where," he said. "I knew that mom and dad were going to Jerusalem."
A few minutes later he reached the scene of the attack and was shocked by the sight. "I didn't think that this is what I would see, but as soon as I got there I saw the upside-down car. In the first second I already recognized the vehicle. I understand exactly what happened and who was wounded. The officer also sort of hinted that I 'need to be strong.'"
Natanel joined Pedaya in the ambulance, and during the ride told their other siblings who hadn't yet heard the news that they needed to get to the hospital. Mother Chava and daughter Tehilla were already in the emergency room, but a few minutes later they received word of their Michael's death.
He was the eleventh person from Otniel to be murdered by terrorists. He lived only three buildings away from Dafna Meir.
His children see Michael's legacy in Otniel, and intend to continue living there. "I see this as my home," said Natanel. "I don't think that this is a reason to leave the place. Just the opposite. Dad lived here, dad built this community." Pedaya feels the same: "In the car rides after the attack I was a little afraid, but like Natanel said: we are not scared and we will continue traveling there, despite what happened."