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People in Jerusalem are mourning after a recent shooting outside a synagogue


Behind the headlines of a Palestinian gunman's recent attack outside a Jerusalem synagogue are the stories of families trying to make sense of what happened that night. NPR's Daniel Estrin brings us this on the family of two of the victims and the family of the gunman.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: I visit the small apartment of an Israeli family torn apart. Tal Barashi sits on a thin mattress on the floor. It's the Jewish mourning custom. Recently she mourned the death of one brother. They attribute his death to post-traumatic stress disorder from his experiences in one of Israel's wars. Now she's mourning another brother, Eli, killed a couple of nights before we talked.

TAL BARASHI: He very loved to help people all the time. He all the time search for people who need help.

ESTRIN: He and his wife were eating Sabbath dinner in this apartment. They heard shooting outside, ran out to help the wounded and the Palestinian gunman killed them and five other people. Then police killed him.

BARASHI: (Speaking Hebrew).

ESTRIN: Barashi says in Hebrew, "What kind of Jewish state are we? We can't walk outside safely in our own country." She reflects on the shared humanity of Jews and Arabs.

BARASHI: We are all the same. We have two legs, two hands, two eyes, one heart. We are together. Why we don't live together like a family? Why I need to sit here and cry about my brother?

ESTRIN: She says she wants measure for measure with the family of the Palestinian gunman.

BARASHI: We suffer. They should suffer. We lose family. They should lose, too.

ESTRIN: Israel is taking measures. It's sealed the attacker's family's home and promises to demolish it. She wants them to be exiled. That kind of deportation was a campaign promise of Israel's new far-right security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir.

BARASHI: I hope Ben-Gvir will do something. I believe Ben-Gvir. But I need to see him do something.

ESTRIN: Just down the street from the gunman's home, now sealed, my NPR colleague Peter Kenyon visited the gunman's uncle, Ali Alqam.

ALI ALQAM: (Speaking Arabic).

ESTRIN: He says his father, the gunman's grandfather, was stabbed and killed in 1998, the first of three Palestinian victims in an infamous stabbing spree in Jerusalem that year. Israeli media have been revisiting this history after Alqam's attack. An Israeli far-right extremist was arrested for the murders but later released. The accused stabber's spokesman was none other than Itamar Ben-Gvir - today the Israeli security minister acting to punish the family of the gunman.

ALQAM: (Speaking Arabic).

ESTRIN: Alqam says his nephew, the gunman Khairy Alqam, was named after his grandfather and that the family tried to hide from him what happened to his grandfather, but eventually he found out. Was 21-year-old Khairy avenging his grandfather's death when he opened fire on Israelis? Or was he avenging an Israeli military operation that killed Palestinians a day before?

ALQAM: (Through interpreter) A 21-year-old boy doesn't just pursue death on his own. He was in grief. My father was killed 25 years ago.

ESTRIN: He says, "We are a peace-loving people," but then says his nephew was a soldier of God.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.