Surviving a Terrorist Attack
By Amanda Botfeld
Kay Wilson is a bit of an eccentric. She talks fast, thinks quick, and jokes even quicker.
“I hate pop music,” she says. “What is pop music, really? It’s popular, it’s everywhere, right? So is ebola.” For such a tiny little Englishwoman, it’s amazing how much spunk they crammed into her.
When she was nineteen, Kay emigrated to Israel. She started off doing “stupid things”— riding a motorbike for FedEx, training parrots at the zoo— until she finally found herself as a tourguide. Although born Jewish, she decided to specialize in giving tours to Christians.
That is how she met Christine. Christine was an American Christian. She was proper, dainty, and ladylike—“the antithesis of myself!” exclaims Kay.
Even so, the two became fast friends. Kay invited Christine out on a hike in Israel. She said yes. So the two women—with Kay’s little dog in tow—set out to hike “the most beautiful area in Israel.”
The hike started just as picturesque as they imagined. Green. Lush. Perfect.
Meanwhile, they noticed two Palestinian men “hunched down in the bushes.” Something strange was going on here. Something was not quite right.
“I tell my friend not to worry,” says Kay, secretly feeling anxious. They began quickening their pace. Kay took out her pen knife—just in case.
They hear a scream.
Kay snapped. “As soon as I try and turn around, one of them jumps me from behind.”
He tackled her to the ground.
All of a sudden, they were locked in a fierce battle. They struggled with each other, wrestling, fighting. He kneeled on top of her. Kay wielded her knife—“trying to circumcise him.”
She missed. “And the moral of that lesson,” she says, “is size does matter.” Her attacker was not amused. He reached under his jacket, pulling out an object she will never forget: a machete. “It’s about two and half inches thick. And it’s got a serrated edge.” Her body reacted in horror. “I am drenched in sweat. I mean from nowhere. Like gushing out. And my tongue is like … all the liquid and moisture’s been sucked out of it. It feels so huge, like a rug that’s been rolled up and stuffed down the back of my throat.” “Okay, okay, okay!” she pleaded. He dragged her up, allowing her
to catch a glimpse of Christine. She almost wished she didn’t—Christine had a kitchen knife on her throat.
“Now I’m like permafrost in my head. It’s like this thick—I cannot see. I cannot think.”
Her attacker broke her paralysis, rummaging through her backpack. “In a situation like this, people pray. I mean they just pray. And I’m saying, ‘God, please don’t let him find my ID.’” Her ID, of course, stated her Israeli citizenship. It would have been a death sentence.
“And sure enough, he finds it.”
A thought flashed across her mind: “We’re probably going to be raped.”
Instead, time passed. Lots of time. The girls tried negotiating, playing tricks, anything they could think of. None of it worked.
One of the men took out his cellphone. He spoke in Arabic. Kay did her best to understand. It was something about a car. Were they about to be kidnapped?
“Take off your shoes,” said the other man. What on Earth did he want with their shoes? Kay obeyed. So did Christine. Then their hands were tied behind their backs. Tight. Very tight. One of the men stripped Christine’s sweater from her waist, and “hack[ed] it up with his knife.” The fabric was used to gag the girls’ mouths. Just as Kay was getting her glasses peeled away, her adversary eyed her necklace.
“Magen David”, she said. Star of David. “And he takes that off.”
“By now, we’re half an hour later: barefoot, bound, gagged. I’m half-blind. And no Star of David.”
“One of them steps between us and I’m thinking, ‘You can’t take my friend. You can’t take her. Take me too!’”
“As I’m craning my neck, he pushes me on my knees, pushes my head forward, covers it with part of Christina’s fleece … Then I see a light. And that light is the sun glistening off his machete. And I understand that I’m gonna be murdered.” Then, all at once, “It’s a chorus. A perverse, sacred chorus, of three monotheistic creeds. I hear them say, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ I hear Christine scream, ‘Jesus!’ And I hear myself say, ‘Sh’ma Yisrael!’” “He stabs me so hard in the back I fall on my side. Now I’m on my side and he’s leaning on me, got the gag on me, and he’s plunging the machete into me. And he’s breaking bones. And everytime he pulls in and out his machetes—because it’s serrated—it is ripping my flesh.” “Five feet away from me is my friend and she’s laying on her back. The other guy’s leaning on her stomach and he’s chopping her up in front of my eyes. It’s like watching a little tiny chick with somebody violently pulling the feathers. She’s squealing and she’s trying to fight and there’s blood and there’s—it’s a mess.” “And I can see that he is enjoying this. So these are my last thoughts. You know, I can have so many cosmic thoughts that it’s like I’m 46 years old and I’m being murdered. I’m never going to see the people I love again … and I think the prevailing thought for me at that time—in those mad moments— was I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction that he’s hurting me.” “That was like my last autonomy. So I tried not to make a sound when he’s breaking my bones and stabbing me. And then, amongst all that, I prayed again. I said, ‘Please God, please let me live. Just give me one more chance. Let me live.’” “I decided to play dead.” Kay bugged out her eyes, keeping them open like a true corpse. But her gaze rolled over to Christine, “being hacked up, chopped up like shishlik.” “After 12 butcheries, they leave.” Kay stayed on the ground. “Once again, I can hear the birds, I can hear the wind, I can hear Christine gurgling. I’m not sure at this point if I’m dead or alive. I don’t know if I’m in heaven or hell.” “With my ear to the ground, I hear the vibrations. It’s footsteps.” It was them, returning. “One of
them turns me on my back … I’m now looking up at the sky and I can see the pines. And the sun streaming through the pines. And I see … a hand that God made clutching a machete that man made. And I watch him plunge it into my chest.”
“And I didn’t flinch. I didn’t blink. And it missed my heart by 4 millimeters.”
After the attack, Kay had an enormous list of injuries: A crushed sternum. A dislocated
shoulder. A broken shoulder blade. Six ribs sticking out of her back, plus 30 additional fractures.
And, Kay adds, “A bit of a headache.” Bound, barefoot, and gagged, she struggled to pull herself up. She failed. She failed again. After three tries, she was able to stand. Her hands had been bound so tight she couldn’t feel them; she wonderedifthey’dbeenchoppedoff. The men stabbed her dog, but it barely managed to survive. Bleeding and delirious, Kay journeyed with her dog back to the main trail—she wanted to die where the police could find her. Instead, she found a family that called for help; she was rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center—a hospital that emphasizes coexistence. The pain was immense. She was on the operating table, fighting through agony, on the cusp of death. “There’s Dr. Shapiro on my left, and the last thing I know,” she says, “is that Dr. Shapiro moves his hand across my stomach, and he says to his colleague—in Hebrew—he says, ‘Mohammed,’ give me the knife.’” Remember, Kay urges, “That’s after a terror attack.” “What I learned from that is that it was an Arab-Israeli Muslim surgeon who saved my life.” Kay stresses the point again: “It’s very, very important that you know that.”