The Fort Worth Press - Israeli who lost parents on October 7 has message of peace

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Israeli who lost parents on October 7 has message of peace
Israeli who lost parents on October 7 has message of peace / Photo: © AFP

Israeli who lost parents on October 7 has message of peace

Israeli businessman Maoz Inon lost both his parents to the October 7 attacks by Hamas but while some bereaved have been baying for vengeance the 49-year-old has been preaching peace.

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"We didn't want to take revenge," Inon told AFP at a small peace rally in Shefa Amr in northern Israel that united Jews and Palestinians, a rare event since the war broke out.

Inon admitted that at first he struggled to call for peace and forgiveness "but this is the legacy of my parents. The future is going to be better," he said.

"War is not bringing any safety or security to the people of Israel, and of course not to the Palestinians.

"The cycle of blood and fear has been going on for more than 100 years," he said.

Bilha and Yakovi Inon were killed at their home in the cooperative farming community of Netiv Haasara, close to Gaza, as Hamas fired volleys of rockets into Israel as they stormed the border barrier.

Some 1,160 people -- mostly civilians -- were killed in the unprecedented attack, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign has killed more than 32,800 people, mostly women and children, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said.

Since his parents' deaths, Inon has criss-crossed Israel and Europe in bid to reach out to Palestinians, including some from Gaza who "also lost a father, brother, entire families".

- 'We must forgive' -

"I have learnt a few lessons that changed my life," he said. "One of them is that hope is an action. We need to work to create hope. It's not something we will be given... We must create hope. And this rally here was exactly an example," he said.

"I know that Israelis and Palestinians can live together because I've experienced it. For 20 years I had partners from Palestine, Jordan and Egypt," said Inon, who opened a chain of hostels, including one in the predominantly Palestinian Old City of Nazareth, in northern Israel.

Even as he was hugged by the crowd after his speech, Inon admitted that responses like his had been rare in Israel since October 7.

The attack has traumatised the country, leaving many adamant that peace with the Palestinians is no longer possible.

Inon said history had shown that peace could be made, even with Israel's foes.

In 1978 "Egypt was Israel's number one enemy, far more powerful than Hamas," and yet the neighbouring countries signed a peace agreement "only a few years after the 1973 war", another Arab-Israeli conflict which shocked Israel.

To move forward, "we must forgive the past and forgive the present... and work very hard to build the future," Inon said.

He called on the international community to support those calling for reconciliation and to "invest in peace" as it did in Northern Ireland and South Africa.

Peace has become almost a prophetic mission for the charismatic businessman. Four nights after his parents were killed "I woke in the night crying, my entire body in pain. My wife was sleeping next to me" when he dreamt that an angel called "the star of peace" came to him.

"I had a dream, and now I'm following this dream," he said.

W.Knight--TFWP