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Meeting with Victims of Terror

The Jewish Agency met with several victims of terror and their families in the past week to give them support and hear their stories.

Conversation with Ahava Tomer*

Jewish Agency representatives met Ahava Tomer outside the ICU at the Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. She has hardly left the place ever since her son, Yonatan, was rushed there two days ago after being stabbed numerous times by a terrorist. She is not allowed to enter and see him often, but she said Yonatan is already doing better and calls her on his cell phone from inside the ICU room. He is laying in a bed near Nadav— a 13-year-old boy who was critically wounded in the same attack. 

Ahava said her son was at her bedside every day at the hospital three months ago when she underwent surgery to address a disability she has suffered from since contracting polio as a baby. Now he is hospitalized just down the hall from the ICU where she received treatment and she can’t believe she is back.

She proudly described how Yonatan, who is the youngest of her 11 children, saved many lives during the attack when he shouted “terrorist, terrorist,” and yelled at a little girl to hide in a building. The girl’s father has since called Ahava weeping, and thanking her son for saving his daughter’s life.

Ahava recounted the day of the attack, saying that Yonatan was supposed to come back home from synagogue. When she heard ambulances outside, she tried calling him on the phone but he didn’t answer. She grew more and more frantic, calling him to no avail until a stranger answered the phone, telling her that her son had gotten a scratch and was in the hospital. It took Ahava several hours to get to the hospital since the roads were all blocked. When she finally got there and saw her son in the ICU bed she couldn’t believe it was him and broke down crying.

As she was sitting outside of the ICU room, she noticed that there was an Arab woman sitting across from her. Only later did Ahava realize that this was the mother of the terrorist who had attacked her son and was being treated in a bed right near Yonatan and Nadav — the other victim. After making a request to the staff, the terrorist was moved to another room.

Ahava, who received an emergency grant from The Fund for the Victims of Terror, is in desperate need of the financial assistance. Her husband is also handicapped and since the day of the attack hasn’t been physically able to visit the hospital.

The family doesn’t own a car, so in order to come to the hospital she needs to get rides from neighbors and friends. Ahava plans on using the money from The Fund to help Yonatan while he is in the hospital by getting him a decent pair of pajamas and slippers to wear.

“It is very special that there are people around the world that care about someone like me, may I never need such a gift in the future,” Ahava said. “I want to say not just ‘thank you,’ but ‘a thousand thanks’ — I wish health to all those who gave and that may we never need such gifts in the future!”

Conversation with Rena Ben Gal*

Jewish Agency representatives also met with Rena Ben Gal, in her modest apartment in Pisgat Ze’ev – where she and her 5 children live just a few minutes away from the candy shop outside of which her 13-year-old son, Nadav, was stabbed and critically wounded during a terrorist attack on October 12.

On the day of the attack, Nadav left the house with his brother and rode the short distance to the candy store on his bicycle.

As he exited the store, two Palestinians teenagers attacked him with knives, stabbing him and leaving Nadav gravely injured.

The storekeeper — a friend of the family — chased after the terrorists, who had already stabbed a 24-year-old man. Nadav’s younger brother, aged 12, witnessed the entire attack and luckily wasn’t hurt physically.

The Jewish Agency representatives met Rena two days after the attack. Her ex-husband was at the hospital by Nadav’s side. Nadav is still on support and with many surgeries ahead of him. She was at home trying to keep some kind of routine for her other children, sending them to school for the first time since the attack and preparing lunch for them. Tasks, she said, she does every day but today seem even more important.

Used to being the one helping others, Rena said she is unaccustomed to receiving help, such as the emergency grant she received from The Fund for the Victims of Terror. But she realizes that she needs help now. Rena said she is deeply thankful for the grant. As a divorced woman caring for five children, she has many financial burdens — she doesn’t even own a car, saying she can’t afford it. Other issues have arisen, such as her children being afraid of leaving the house to walk to their schools, so she is making arrangements for friends and neighbors to escort them back and forth.

With the grant she hopes to cover some of hers and Nadav’s urgent needs as well as give her other children some much needed pampering and attention. “A mother needs to be strong for her children, if I am okay, they will be okay, “ she explained. Rena asked to say “thank you” to donors of The Fund — thank you that there are people who care. She also wished that The Fund’s staff won’t have any more work such as this to carry out.

As for Nadav, Rena said she is trying to maintain an optimistic attitude, noting that Nadav is a fighter and she believes that his health will improve. The medical care Nadav has received has been the finest, she said. The surgeon who initially operated on him for nine hours to save his life was flown in by helicopter and reached the hospital at the same time as the ambulance.

When Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat visited her at the hospital, he asked her, she recounted, “What do you need?” Her answer?

“I need you to make this stop! No more suffering for mothers and children.”

Later, sitting by Nadav’s bed in the ICU she whispered to him that she will get him the suit he always wanted and throw him a big party for his Bar Mitzvah, which is set to take place in two months.

* Important Note: Everyone mentioned is a real person. We have used aliases to give the families some measure of privacy during these trying times.

 

Learn more about the Fund for the Victims of Terror

 

 

 

16 Oct 2015 / 3 Heshvan 5776 0
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