Parents of Slain Yeshiva Student Say Government Members Are Making Political Capital of Boy’s Death

The parents of slain yeshiva student Aharon Gross have accused members of Premier Menachem Begin’s government of making political capital of the youth’s death by stabbing in the Hebron market place last Thursday. They also complained that no representative of the government has visited or called them to express condolences in their grief or to explain the circumstances of their son’s death.

The family, Orthodox Jews, emigrated from the United States in 1974 and live in the Kiryat Itri quarter, a religious neighborhood with a large American immigrant population.

Yehudit Gross, mother of the 19-year-old victim, singled out Science Minister Yuval Neeman, leader of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya party for criticism, according to an interview published in the Jerusalem Post today. Neeman spoke at the youth’s funeral, held in Jerusalem at midnight Thursday. According to Mrs. Gross he came uninvited and made misstatements about her son.

She said the family wanted a private service but agreed to have Defense Minister Moshe Arens speak ### five minutes. “But… Neeman came instead,” Mrs. Gross said. “I wanted to stop him but didn’t because of the place. He said Aharon had been among the anti-withdrawal protesters at Ophira (in Sinai in 1982) but that wasn’t true. Neeman didn’t know the facts and he didn’t know Aharon,” she said.

The young man’s grandfather, Rabbi Yehuda Ginsberg, was also bitter. “The government has been so thoughtless,” he said. “I am so ashamed. We came here because we belong in Eretz Israel and we are willing to pay the price … Now every political group is trying to use this tragedy for its own advantage.”

Aharon’s mother added, “We don’t want revenge. We only want to know what really happened.” The family has sent telegrams to Begin and to Interior Minister Yosef Burg demanding to know why their son, stabbed by unidentified assailants, did not receive immediate medical treatment and why, although he wore ritual fringes as is the custom of Orthodox Jews, he was mistaken for an Arab.

The young man lay bleeding in the gutter for some time before he was taken by local Arabs to the Hebron hospital where he was pronounced dead by Arab doctors who believed him to be an Arab. According to some reports, fellow yeshiva students did not minister to him after the stabbing but engaged in a running gun battle with his attackers who fled in a car. Some accounts said Aharon was mistaken for one of the fleeing Arabs who was reported, erroneously, to have been wounded in the gun fight.

Mrs. Gross told the Post, “The American Vice Consul in Jerusalem came to our house immediately on Friday morning. He had recognized our name from a passport request … But no one from our own government has come,” she said.

WANTED TO PRACTICE HIS FAITH

According to Mrs. Gross, her son simply wanted to practice his faith and was not ideological. But politicians, such as Neeman, have made it appear that he was a militant. She said she selected the Hebron yeshiva for her son not for ideological reasons but because she wanted a school with a close rabbi-student relationship. The Hebron yeshiva is linked to the Gush Emunim zealots. Aharon was not active in the Gush Emunim, his mother said.

She said that before Israel returned Sinai to Egypt in April, 1982, many of his classmates went there to demonstrate against the withdrawal. But her son stayed in school and studied. He was studious, talented and helpful to all, she said. The young man’s father, Alexander Gross, is a lawyer and army reservist. He was wounded in Lebanon last summer. The family has five other children.

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