ZAKA man examines damage in Burgas 390.
(photo credit: Avigdor Shatran)
While many politicians responded on Monday to the news of the EU declaring
Hezbollah’s military wing a terrorist organization, few can relate like Maxim
Fahima, whose son Daniel was left permanently scarred after a bomb ripped
through a tourist bus in Burgas, Bulgaria on July 18, 2012. The attack killed
five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.
Daniel’s story is at once a
“miracle from heaven, God wanted him to return and recover,” she said, though he
is not the person he once was.
His father says there is some amount of “a
good feeling” that maybe, because of what happened to Daniel, “something will
change” – like Hezbollah’s operations being hampered by the EU
Maxim Fahima described the first moments of when he learned of
the bombing, saying he saw the reports of the incident on television and then
received a hysterical telephone call from his wife. He said they “felt something
had destroyed our world,” and tried calling his nephew, a travel agent who had
arranged the trip.
“There was no answer, I knew there was something
wrong,” Fahima said. “If he was not answering, he was avoiding me.”
frantic search began as Fahima called his brother to try and get in touch with
his nephew. He said he was getting little to no answers from authorities, as he
checked Facebook for updates and kept trying to call Daniel.
answered on the other side,” he said.
At 2:00 a.m. the Foreign Ministry
announced on television that it knew the names of who had been killed and
Since Fahima had heard nothing from his son, he said they “knew
a disaster had hit them.” At 2:30 a.m., authorities told them that Daniel had
been injured and flown from Burgas to Sofia. Officials urged Fahima and his
family to go meet their son in the hospital. With his wife and daughter, the
family immediately went to the airport and flew to Sofia on their own – a trip
that took them 14 hours.
The next day, in the middle of the afternoon,
the Israeli Embassy in Bulgaria updated them on Daniel’s status. Hearing that
their son was alive and well, Maxim Fahima said “this strengthened us since we
know he’s strong, and would not give up to let something break him.”
a short time later, and before they got to see Daniel, the embassy told them
their son was being raced back to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer for
emergency treatment and they should also return.
Fahima said “they would
not let us on the same plane with him because they did not want us to distract
the doctors. His life was in danger and he had a 10 percent chance to
On different flights but flying at virtually the same time, Daniel
and his family returned to Israel.
The family was finally able to see him
in the hospital and discovered that he had almost no legs and large parts of his
body were damaged.
“Everyone fell on the ground,” Maxim Fahima
Daniel would lay in a coma for two months before waking up, and
when he did, his ability to ever live independently was virtually destroyed.
Large portions of his legs were gone, he had lost one eye and he had suffered
permanent brain damage.
Today, Daniel can walk 50 to 100 meters and has
retained many cognitive abilities and skills. But his muscles are extremely
weak, he has permanently damaged short-term memory and has not gotten over the
memories of seeing the bodies of his close friends blown up and strewn all
To exercise his memory, the family tries to get Daniel to
write things down that he has done before he forgets them.
Fahima said he
wished to thank “the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the whole
government” for their efforts in convincing the EU to ban Hezbollah.
said their “persistence” paid off and that “maybe something will come of this,”
such as Hezbollah’s movements and operations being interrupted.
said that he had also tried to help by giving interviews to foreign media and
telling the French ambassador in Israel that “today it was a Jew, tomorrow it
will be a French person.”
Fahima added that all that he wants is to “live
in peace, not always to be living with tension” and that Hezbollah “needed to be
stopped at any cost.”