An area family is mourning the death of Tomer Morad, brother of Bucks County resident Omri Morad, who was killed on April 8 in a Tel Aviv terrorist shooting.
A 28-year-old Palestinian gunman opened fire at Ilka bar on Dizengoff Street where Tomer Morad and childhood friend Eytam Magini, both 27, met for a beer. Morad, Magini and 35-year-old Barak Lufan were fatally shot, and at least nine others were wounded. The gunman was killed in a police shootout on April 9.
Morad and Magini, who had recently moved to Kfar Saba together, arrived early at the bar, planning to meet friends.
“They arranged to meet some friends. They were childhood friends, always cared for each other. When they did not answer — we understood that something had happened. We understood that the worst had happened. The two friends who went out together were murdered,” friend Gal Benvenisti said to The Times of Israel.
Omri Morad, along with his wife and children, joined his family in Israel on April 9 for his brother’s funeral. They plan to stay there for the near future.
“He loved traveling abroad but mainly in Israel. There was almost no weekend when he and his friends didn’t take another hiking trip, some other canal or reef,” Omri Morad said. “[There are] so many pictures under waterfalls that he has with his friends. He was amazing socially … He had so many social groups.”
Tomer Morad was a fourth-year undergraduate student at Tel Aviv University, where he matriculated after his time as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces. After learning of his death, staff from his elementary and high school reached out to the Morad family.
“We were just thinking about phrases to describe him for the grave design, and we decided that the bottom line will be, ‘You will always be remembered alive’ because he was only 27 — It’s something that is unbearable for us — But in those 27 years, he managed to do so much,” Omri Morad said.
Omri Morad and his mother visited the site of Tomer Morad’s death 48 hours afterward, per his mother’s insistence and despite his warning that the bar, which was closed on that Saturday night, would be a hotbed for protesters, both Israeli and Palestinian.
“When we were there, it was like a zoo,” Morad said. “There were both groups — political groups from both sides of the road — both of them shouting, cursing, throwing things at each other.”
The scene “completely overwhelmed” Morad’s mother.
“It’s ridiculous. In Israel, people say that in every family, there is some relation to a casualty of war, casualty of terrorist attack,” Omri Morad said. “We hadn’t had that. Yes, we had things happen to us in our life. But none were so tragic and so horrible as the murder of my brother Tomer.”
The disaster illustrated one of the reasons Omri and his wife Tamar Morad chose to leave Israel and settle in the Philadelphia area, where Tamar Morad’s aunt lives.
Israeli culture was very intense, Omri Morad said. Even the way people drive was “a bit too much.” When the family had a fire in their home, it was the last straw.
The couple moved to Newtown with their young daughter in July 2019, and their son was born during the pandemic. The family belongs to Congregation Brothers of Israel.
Tomer Morad’s death coincided with the expiration of the family’s visa, which is part of the reason they are staying in Israel until further notice. But the family hopes to return.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which “comes in waves,” hit the family hard, and though Omri Morad wants to support his family in Israel, he feels a responsibility to give his children a safe upbringing, which he believes he can do in Bucks County.
“I’m not afraid that my daughter is riding the bus to school every morning,” he said. “And, yes, there were occasions that we mainly hear from the media about shootings in school in the United States, or shootings in the mall. But, for some reason, it doesn’t bother us so much … It doesn’t affect us on a daily basis.”
Morad is frustrated by the ongoing war; he feels that Israel’s proposed solutions to combating terror attacks haven’t been effective. He’s perturbed by the teaching in some Palestinian schools that antagonize and target Jews. He’s not sure of the country’s best path forward and is hoping to avoid any more family tragedy.
“The only opinion I have is that I am terrified that this thing will happen to one of my kids,” Morad said.