I came across this 7-year-old Time article this week while reporting along feature on StandWithUs, which will run Thursday, and, man, does this story make me feel sick to my stomach. Kobi Mandel and Yosef Ishran were but two of the more than 1,000 Israelis—and almost 5,000 Palestinians—killed during the Second Intifada, but they died in such a brutal, carnal manner.
Miro Cohen stayed up all night searching for two missing 14-year-olds. The sheep farmer who doubles as security officer for the small West Bank settlement of Tekoa figured Yossi Ishran and Kobi Mendel had just gotten lost as they hiked through the desert. Then, at 5:30 a.m., his walkie-talkie crackled with terrible news: the boys had been found dead. “Were they shot or stabbed?” Cohen asked. The caller hesitated. “It’s worse than that,” he said. “Come and see, Miro.”
In the thin dawn light, Cohen raced to a nearby cave once home to an old hermit. Inside, the sight was indescribable. A rock the size of a computer rested on Kobi’s smashed skull. Both bodies were covered with stones. Blood smeared the walls, and the dirt floor was muddy with it. When the searchers rolled the rocks away, they didn’t see faces but unrecognizable pulp. “I had only one thought,” Cohen says, standing in the cave two days later. “To get my hands on the killers.”
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