Kay Wilson was hiking through an Israeli forest with her friend Kristine Luken when Islamic terrorists pounced, and left thinking they had executed them both
Kay Wilson was gagged so she couldn’t scream and had her hands behind her back.
Machete blows rained down on her head with such force that he had already smashed 30 bones and plunged the blade deep into her body.
She knew only one thing would stop the monster who was inflicted such brutal torture – pretend she was dead.
So she suddenly stopped fighting and lay still, with her eyes wide open to make it more convincing.
It worked, and her attacker eventually stepped away, believing his murderous work was done.
But just two metres away his accomplice was butchering Kay’s friend, Kristine Luken.
Kay, who was facing towards her, had to watch motionless and in silence as he brutally hacked her to death before her eyes.
Just half an hour earlier, Kay, a British woman working as a tour guide in Israel, and Kristine, an American living in Nottingham, had been enjoying the serene beauty of Israel’s Mata Forest.
The friends had decided to go hiking at the beauty spot during their 2010 Christmas holidays.
But they were pounced on by two Islamic terrorists who earlier that day had vowed to “kill the first Jews we come across” after crossing over into Israeli territory from Palestine.
After first believing they were going to be robbed or kidnapped, the woman were then gagged and bound and pushed into the floor.
But then the men started executing them with machetes, only stopping when they were sure both were dead.
Miraculously, Kay hung on to life, climbing over rocks for a mile while gagged, bound, barefoot and almost bleeding to death from 13 machete wounds to her lungs and diaphragm as well as dozens of broken bones.
She was finally rescued after coming across a family having a picnic.
But despite her own terrifying ordeal she says nothing compares with the memory of having to watch her friend being barbarously murdered, the horrendous images of which are now forever seared into her memory.
“I watched her die to save my life.
“That is a deeper scar than any machete wound, to watch someone literally being chopped up while they are crying out to their God. That’s something that no-one should ever see.
“It has stayed with me ever since, and I think it has added to my feeling of guilt, that I had to watch her in her most helpless moment.
“Kristine was on her back, with her hands tied behind her, and she was trying to fend him off with her shoulders.
“He was stabbing her repeatedly in the chest. I could hear her groaning and whimpering, then gurgling. She had no chance.
“While that was happening the other guy was plunging his machete into me so hard I could hear my bones crunch.
“I was lying on my side and i could feel my blood spurting out of me like a fountain. I was thinking, who’s going to die first, Kristine or me?
“At that moment a million flashes were going through my mind, and the most predominant was: This isn’t happening. Murder happens to other people. It can’t be happening to me. I’m 46 years old, I’m being murdered. Even to say it now it’s chilling.
“I don’t know how I managed to keep the wherewithal to understand what was happening.
“I knew that people die with their eyes open, so that’s what I did.
“I played dead, lying still despite the atrocious pain. I just lay there hoping the he wouldn’t realise I was still alive. And I watched, two metres away, my friend on her back and the other man was hacking her up.
“A few seconds after he stopped, one of them came back. He rolled me over on my back, and stabbed me in the chest so hard it broke my sternum.
“The knife missed my heart by four millimetres. I remember not even blinking.
Kay grew up in Buckinghamshire and although from a Jewish family said she was a “very nominal Jew”.
Aged 21, she decided to travel the world instead of “getting married and having a sensible job”, and decided to start with Israel – and never left.
She said: “It was exciting, not the religious part, but the climate, the culture, the feeling of being part of my people’s history.
“I was young and reckless and wanted to explore the world. I didn’t feel Jewish, I was just an English girl whose felt that I didn’t fit in. But when I got to Israel I just thought, ‘honey, I’m home’.
“I did any job I could, I was a pretty average jazz musician, a street artist. In my late thirties I decided I wanted to become a tour guide.”
Kay met Kristine, 46, an American Christian who worked for the Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ) group in Nottingham, during a trip to Poland where Kay was guiding a tour of former Nazi death camps in August 2010.
Kay remembered: “Most of the people on the tour were Christians.
“One day the bus was about to leave and Kristine wasn’t on it. I went to look for her and found her in the forest reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish mourners’ prayer.
“It profoundly touched me, and I invited her to come to spend some time in Israel with me, to get to know the real Israel, the jazz clubs, the wine bars, the hiking, that kind of thing. Not any of the religious stuff, but the way Israelis really live.
“She came for a long weekend during the Christmas holidays.
“She arrived on the Friday and slept early, so the only really quality time we had together was on the Saturday, the day she was murdered.
“I had planned the four days geographically, and on the first day I was going to show her what is called the Biblical lowlands.
“So in the morning we went to the ancient city of Beit Shemesh to look for pottery, then we went to a winery.
Then I took her and my little dog Peanut on a hike along Israel’s National Trail, setting off at 3pm.
“There were lots of families at the picnic area near the car park that day. It didn’t feel like we were in a dangerous area.”
After half an hour trekking, Kay took Kristine up to a viewpoint she had learned about from her tour guide training to show her the places they had been that day.
But as the two women sat down on a rock eating sunflower seeds, Kristine noticed two men crouched in the bushes around 15 metres away.
They recognised from their clothing that they were Palestinians who must have crossed over the border into Israel.
Kay recalled: “One stood up and asked in Hebrew if we had water. I answered back in Hebrew ‘I wish’. But my heart was racing.
“I told Kristine to hurry back to the car. I didn’t tell her but I thought they were going to rob us.
“I took out my little penknife and hid in in my hand so she wouldn’t see.
“We were rushing back down the hill, with Kristine just behind me, and suddenly she screamed.
“As I turned around one of the men pounced on me from behind and knocked me over. I had the floor and my lip split open.
“As we’re wrestling on the ground I managed to stab him in the nuts with my penknife. Blood spurted out of his crotch onto my sleeve.
“We were both held at knifepoint for half an hour, which seemed like an eternity.
“At first I tried to pretend that we were both English tourists, but then they found by Israeli identity card. So after that I started addressing them in Hebrew.
Then they told us to take our shoes off, and they took out the laces and tied our hands behind our backs.
“And they took Kristine’s fleece, which was tied around her waist, cut it in half and gagged both of us with it.
“While one of the men was tying us up the other was making phone calls.
“I know conversational arabic, so I could tell they were talking about a car and began to think they were going to kidnap us.
“The thought of being held captive by two sadists filled me with dread.
“These were the days when Corporal Gilad Shalit, an Israeli Defence Forces solider, was still being held by Hamas militants. I knew kidnapping two women would be seen as a real prize too.
“But instead of pushing us down the hill they separated us by five feet, pushed us to our knees, said ‘Allah Akbar’.
“At that moment I thought they were going to behead us.
“I was just waiting for him to hack off my head and I remember thinking, ‘please God, let it be clean’. But then they started butchering us with machete blows.
“I could hear Kristine screaming, ‘Jesus help me’”
Once the attack was over, Kay was dead and Kristine lay bleeding to death with 13 machete wounds, six compound fractures in her ribs, a dislocated shoulder and 30 other broken bones including a crushed sternum and broken shoulder blade.
Incredibly she was still conscious and managed to get to her feet.
She said: “At the time I didn’t know, but the men had moved only 20 metres away to have a cigarette.
“They didn’t know I was still alive, and I didn’t know they were there. If they had heard me get up they would have come back to finish me off.
“I walked for over a mile, for half an hour, gagged, bound, barefoot and my life slipping away.
“I didn’t think I would survive, but I wanted to die somewhere where someone would find my body.
“I was throwing up behind my gag, which was like breathing through a straw. I was losing so much blood. Flies were already gorging on my open wounds.
“I managed to walk through the thicket and up rocks until I got to the picnic tables where there was a family with children.
“I tried to veer towards the adults so the children wouldn’t see me. When the woman saw me she let out a loud scream.”
The men had also stabbed Kay’s dog, Peanut, but she had also managed to hobbled back with her to the the place where she was finally rescued.
Kay was rushed by ambulance to the Hadaasah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, where doctors saved her life and an army helicopter scoured the forest looking for her attackers.
She later found out that when they saw the helicopter in the sky above them, Kay’s attacker had jumped up with such shock that he had broken his leg.
He had had to hide in the bushes overnight before dragging himself back to his home the next morning.
After just two weeks, and following surgeries to repair her diaphragm, she was allowed home but spent two years slowly recovering from her injuries.
Her dog Peanut, too, miraculously survived. She was left behind as Kay was rushed to hospital but the next day one of the ambulance crew went back to find her.
He took her home, stitched her up and the dog and Kay were later reunited and recuperated from the attack together.
The men were arrested thanks to DNA evidence from the blood splashed onto her sleeve when she had stabbed one of them with a penknife, and nine months after the attack, Kay came face to face with her attackers in court.
One the first day of the hearing, the men, Ayad Fasafa and Kifah Ghanimat, discovered to their horror that Kay had not died as they had thought.
She said: “When I walked in to the courtroom they started arguing and fighting among themselves.
“It became a terrible row, and I asked my friend, an Arab, what they were talking about. He told me, ‘they didn’t know you are still alive’.
“It was the most amazing feeling, like walking on water. I was trying to grin at them but my mouth couldn’t get any wider.
“I had expected to see the same, empowered, ugly guys who had attacked us int forest.
“But when I looked at them they were very different, their eyes were completely empty.
“They were also so blaze about what they had done, like children.
“At one point they started giggling at Kristine’s father, which invoked my rage.”
With the DNA evidence, as well as the men’s confessions in which they proudly said they wanted to kill Jews, the two men were sentenced to two life sentences and 60 years behind bars. G
hanimat was also convicted of a rape he had committed in 2009 as well as another four counts of attempted murder.
Sentencing Ghanimat, the judge said he “was just evil for the sake of being evil, cruel and apathetic to his fellowman, as he stabbed two helpless women to death and slaughtered others with a large knife, and doing such things for months.
“The cries of the victims echo only only in our imagination but are also heard in the family members’ immense suffering.”
Kay had to cope with another tragedy, though, when just weeks before the trial her dog Peanut escaped her lead and was run over by a car.
Numbed by the tragedy, she said that losing her dog was the first time she cried since her ordeal.
Kay said that she has been contacted by many Arabs and Muslims since the attack “saying thank you for not blaming us all”.
And she said she is channelling the rage she feels towards the people responsible by helping Palestinian refugees, and campaigning for foreign governments to pressure Palestinian authorities to end the handing out of financial stipends to those who kill Jews as rewards.
She has recently set up an education project in a Palestinian refugee camp called Over The Rainbow, which she sang in her head to keep her going as she walked from the place where she should have died to find help.
She said: “Directing my rage to the pursuit of justice is what has helped me in my healing.
“The other thing that is helping me is not holding every Arab Muslim or Palestinian accountable for what those murderers did.
“Four years ago I hid two Muslim young men in my house from other Muslims who wanted to kill them. So I put my life at risk to help them.
“I also crowdfunded for two Palestinians to start their own businesses.
“Then recently a Palestinian who lived in a UN refugee camp contacted me, and we arranged to meet.
“We started by opening up an after school club that will teach children English, and other things that will soften their hearts and create empathy.
It’s nothing to do with getting them to love Israel, it’s about helping them to church their own lives because then they are going to respect the lives of others too.
“I want our neighbours to live in dignity, and the problem isn’t always because of Israel’s politics, there are lots of other factors as well.”
Despite her incredible survival, Kay say she is still burdened by sadness and guilt that her friend lost her life on that hillside, while she watched.
Kay said: “The doctors were dumbfounded by how I survived. People say I’m a walking miracle, but I tell them, don’t say that to me if Kristine’s parents can hear you.
“That implies divine intervention, and leads to delusions of grandeur and I don’t want that. Why should I have survived and not Kristine? Lots of people get murdered or die early from cancer or other things.
“I can only be thankful that I’m alive.”
The Rage Less Traveled by Kay Wilson is available in paperback, kindle and audible from Amazon.