With the outbreak of hostilities in the north, Eliya’s father David Halevi voiced his concerns to the hospital staff regarding where the hospital's NIC unit was situated within the hospital.
“The unit was on the top floor of the hospital building, and Eliya’s incubator was right near an external window, together with all the other infants,” David recalls. "I thought that this was really dangerous. However, the hospital staff assured me that the hospital was out of range of any rockets that Hezbollah had in their arsenal, and that everything would be fine,” he continues.
On the evening of July 17th, their theories were proved wrong. The city of Safed came under fire with rockets landing very close to the hospital, shattering its plate glass windows.
“We were in our home on Kibbutz Amiad, only ten minutes drive from the hospital, when we heard the sirens go off. “
David, who made aliyah from Los Angeles last year, recounts their traumatic experience. "We sped our way up to the hospital to see if little Eliya was safe. People were in a state of shock, but we realized that we had to get these babies out of harms way.”
David personally assisted the hospital staff throughout the night moving the entire NIC unit, including the infant patients, to a lower floor where they would be safe. “I think I will remember that feeling for the rest of my life as I wheeled my son in his incubator to safety,” says David. “I felt that this tiny, two-month old innocent human being, weighing only 2 pounds 12 ounces (1350 grams), had been part of another miracle by surviving this attack.”
Two of the north's other major hospitals; Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa took direct rocket hits during the war, and suffered extensive damage to the building and to medical equipment. With extraordinary acts of courage and bravery, doctors, nurses and paraprofessionals continued to care for the sick and wounded.
As part of its comprehensive plan for Rebuilding the Galilee, the Jewish Agency for Israel is investing in building vital communal infrastructure. As critical service providers for the community, hospitals that were directly hit require support not only to return them to previous levels of working capacity, but to also offer community-wide support for those most in need: from traumatized children to injured and chronically ill citizens.
Utilizing the development expertise and infrastructure of both the Israel Education Fund – a capital project partnership of UJC and the Jewish Agency – and the Jewish Agency's public housing developer, Amigour, the Jewish Agency aims to create a major funding pool for capital projects and renovation throughout the north.
Since that fateful evening, Eliya HaLevy has undergone laser surgery on his eyes. He is still thriving and gaining weight steadily, having recently passed the 4 pound 4 ounce (2 kilo) mark.
*Only low resolution photos available.