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“Christine was an angel,” her mother says, fingering a locket on a silver necklace around her neck. The locket enshrines a photograph of her seventh-grade daughter wearing her St. Joseph’s School uniform: a red plaid jacket and white turtleneck. It is here that the Saadeh story turns grim.

The Al Aqsa Intifada began in the autumn of 2000 after the collapse of the Camp David summit that summer and the riots that followed the visit of the then prime minister to the Temple Mount — a symbolic assertion of Israeli sovereignty over the Holy Site, which includes the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.

The uprising continued for about four years, and invaded even peaceful communities such as Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.

In the summer of 2003, the conflict hit Saadeh family, tragically.

On a rainy evening in June, the couple, along with 12-year-old Christine and her sister, 15-year-old Marian, drove to the market. The family car passed the Shepherd’s Hotel around 7 and, unexpectedly, heavy gunfire erupted, peppering the family’s car with bullets, shattering the windshield.

“The glass fell on us,” Mrs. Saadeh says. Her husband turned to his daughters, first seeing that Marian had been shot in the leg. “I called to Christine, but she didn’t answer me.”

He then saw Christine lying between the seats. “She had been badly hit,” Mr. Saadeh says; he sustained nine bullets in the back and abdomen, while his wife suffered various shrapnel wounds.

He managed to raise his left hand out the window and called out: “We are civilians, don’t shoot!”

The gunmen, undercover Israeli soldiers, immediately closed off the area.

Mrs. Saadeh says she picked up her daughter and cradled her until an ambulance came 15 minutes later and took them to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

It took surgeons seven hours to remove all the bullets from her husband. His wife and elder daughter survived.

Christine did not.

Three other civilians, also Palestinians, were also killed in the attack, which locals have come to call the “Shepherd’s Massacre.”

“I witnessed those days and it was very difficult,” says the Rev. Issa Musleh, who also serves as the spokesman for Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III.

“I was the spiritual father for the Saadeh family,” he remembers, adding “we lived very sad days.” Father Musleh had to deliver the news to George that his youngest daughter had died of her wounds.

“It was a shock for all of us,” he says. “It changed our lives, 180 degrees.”

While her husband remained in the hospital recovering, Mrs. Saadeh struggled through the next few days of mourning and the funeral alone. She told The New York Times at the time: “The soldiers were shocked when they saw the girls. They told us, ‘we are very sorry. We didn’t mean to shoot you.’

“They came with us to the hospital. But what does sorry mean to me? I lost my daughter.”

Father Musleh welcomed thousands paying condolences — ambassadors, faithful from 13 churches and even a representative of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

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