BY DOREEN WACHMANN
IN December 2010, British-born Israeli tour guide Kay Wilson was escorting tourist Kristine Luken on a hiking trail "to see the real Israel away from churches".
On the second day of the trail, a Shabbat afternoon, they were walking in the hills near Beth Shemesh when the two women suffered a brutal attack from two Palestinian terrorists.
American Christian Kristine was hacked to death by the Palestinians.
Lying next to her, bound and gagged, Kay prepared to die as one of the terrorists stabbed her repeatedly with his machete.
A traditional Jew, Kay instinctively said the Shema.
"It came instinctively," she told me. "I did not think that because I'm a Jew this is what I say before I die. I just asked God to let it happen quickly."
Miraculously Kay survived, walking a mile till she was able to get help, bound and gagged, drenched in blood, with 30 large perforations in her lung and diaphragm and 30 broken bones and dislocations.
On the eve of her first speaking tour outside Israel, Kay told me her gruelling story.
"I made aliya in 1986 because I didn't see a life I wanted in England," she said.
"I wanted to re-find life and explore the big wide world. I spent my first almost-20 years in Israel doing everything I could except for being in an office. I have translated, had a shop and worked as a jazz pianist. I became a tour guide in 2006."
Specialising in showing Christians the context of the New Testament within Second Temple Judaism and teaching them about the Holocaust, Kay met Kristine in August 2010, when the former was leading a Christian tour around Polish concentration camps.
Kay said: "As a Christian, Kristine was very interested in the history of Israel and the Jewish people. We were both the same age and single.
"I invited her a few months later to spend four days hiking on the Israel trail. As a guide, I was very interested in getting as many people as possible to have a historical understanding of Israel.
"I have always extended invitations. I wanted to introduce Kristine to Israel's people, history and land."
On the fateful Shabbat afternoon the two women were in an Israeli archaeological park within Israel's pre-1967 borders.
A quarter of an hour after starting the trail, Kristine suggested climbing 100 metres to a viewpoint to take a look down on Beth Shemesh.
"We were sitting on a rock when I saw below me about 10 metres away two Palestinians crouching in the bushes," Kay said. "I thought to myself, 'What are they doing there?'
"I told Kristine not to make a noise, in the hope they hadn't seen us. They suddenly stood up and called out in Hebrew, 'Have you any water?'
"I didn't want to antagonise them. I didn't want them to come close. I said, 'I wish'.
"Kristine asked me what it was about. I said, 'Nothing to worry about. Let's get back to the car'.
"I thought they had seen my backpack which they wanted to grab. We started walking down the hill very fast. I took out a little tiny penknife in the event they would take my bag. Kristine was behind me.
"I suddenly heard a scream. I spun around and this man jumped on me. I was fighting on the ground in the forest. I managed to stab him very lightly with my knife.
"He overcame me with a huge serrated machete, 25cm long and 7cm wide. We were held half an hour at knifepoint. I tried to bargain with them to take my car. I tried to placate them.
"Because of the trauma I had forgotten that before I had answered them in Hebrew. I was speaking in English, trying to convince them that we were tourists. But he saw my Star of David and asked what it was. I realised I was in big trouble."
Then one of the men took off Kay's shoes and bound the two women's hands with the laces.
Kay said: "I was standing there barefoot, hands behind my back, gag on my mouth, waiting to be kidnapped. Suddenly one of the men pushed me to my knees and pushed my head forward and covered it.
"Out of the corner of my eye I saw a machete glinting in the sun. I understood that he was going to cut my head off.
"The next thing he made the Islamic declaration of faith, Allahu Akbar. I found myself lying on the ground, gagged and bound. He was kneeling on me and stabbing the machete into me.
"Kristine was two metres away. The other was guy was leaning on her and chopping her up. My attacker was smashing my bones. It was so painful. I realised I was going to die. I didn't want him to keep stabbing me and smashing my bones in the same place."
That was when Kay prayed, Shema Yisrael.
She said: "My ear was pressed to the ground. I could hear their footsteps coming back. My attacker carried me on his back. I saw the man's arm clenching a knife. He plunged it into my chest and crushed my sternum. It missed my heart by four millimetres.
"They went. Kristine was going to die any minute. I decided I had to try to get up and walk back to the path so the police could find my body. I don't know how I managed to walk a mile, gagged, bound, barefoot and drenched in blood in the middle of a forest. I never lost consciousness.
"The pain was unspeakable. It was very hard to breathe. I got back to my car in the picnic area. An Israeli family alerted an ambulance, the police and army."
Kristine's body was found early the next morning.
The fact that Kay had managed to stab her attacker and that his DNA was on her knife helped the police not only capture the terrorists, but linked them to the murder of an Israeli woman, Neta Sorek, in the same area 10 months before.
But, naturally, the intense trauma has left its mark on Kay.
She said: "I am still in an awful lot of pain. I love to joke that I'm only in pain when I breathe. I feel I have been taken apart and stuck back together."
Ten months on her back, Kay was given 24-hour care after which she underwent six months of trauma therapy in Hadassah Hospital.
She said: "It was very necessary. I am now coherent and expressive. If I had not had that therapy I don't know what would have happened.
"I was very privileged to get therapy. I was at knifepoint for half an hour. It's not like a bus that explodes, which is its own trauma.
"I had half an hour facing death, man-to-man contact, seeing someone savaged to death in front of my eyes, then walking back through the forest. It was not like suicide bombers.
"There were lots of aspects which qualified me for such good therapy."
She explained: "You go into such psychological trauma that you shut down. You don't feel happy or sad, just disconnected. The therapy helped me reconnect with my survivor's guilt, all that kind of stuff."
It took a year before the murderers were first brought to court.
Kay said: "It was good because before I was too physically wounded to attend."
The terrorist who murdered Kristine was sentenced to 110 years, as he had brutally murdered twice. Kay's attacker was sentenced to 20 years for attempted murder and 35 years life sentence for the murder of Kristine.
They were Palestinians from Hebron who had entered Israel illegally.
Kay says: "If the security wall had gone all the way it might not have happened. It is an illusion that we have a security wall.
"My message is not political, but the wall is only in six per cent of the whole border with our Palestinian neighbours. They can sneak in."
But Kay's message is not just about improving Israel's security, as vital as that is.
She said: "Even when I was standing in court I didn't forgive the murderers. I won't forgive them. I am not entitled to forgive them. But I don't have to think about them every day and be consumed with hatred. The best revenge for terror is to live well."
She continued: "I don't speak about my experience because I feel it's doing me good, but because of the valuable things I have learned from it.
"I learned what's important in life. I don't think, 'I'm never going to buy a house or get married'. When I was on the point of death I thought about God and the people I love. That's what's important.
"It's almost impossible not to have a spiritual experience through what I've learned. I didn't see any white lights, but I did have a sense there was something very big and eternal, which I would define as God."
She said: "I am not going to generalise that all Arabs and Muslims are bad. That is not true and will only make me go into hatred.
"My Arab bus driver was one of the first to visit me in hospital. I had a Muslim friend who took me to hospital every week.
"I have found it very necessary to maintain my personal relationships with Muslims and Christians. I have wonderful Palestinian friends who were appalled at the violence.
"It is not a Muslim problem, it is a radicalisation problem."
She added: "I don't want to waste my time with politics. I want to empower people to be motivated towards a better world, not to give into hatred, to be wise to look at issues."
Kay speaks at Leeds' Beth Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue on Sunday (8pm) and on Monday (7pm) at the home of Pastor Mike Fryer, 6 Rowley's Park, Evans Way, Deeside, Flintshire, CH5 1QJ.