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Mom prays for daughter after Nazareth acid attack
By BEN HARTMAN
02/22/2013
Suspected attacker, who had been stalking 16-year-old girl for years, leaned into her bedroom window and threw acid in her face.
 
A single mother from Nazareth sat with her siblings in the waiting room of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa on Thursday, praying while her 16-year-old daughter lay anesthetized and hooked up to a respirator, two days after a man allegedly leaned into her bedroom window and threw acid in her face.

The suspected attacker, a neighbor, had been stalking the girl for years, but the harassment had increased over the past month, the mother said. Almost daily, the man would follow her daughter, “Ayin” (not her real name), around Nazareth, demanding she marry him and threatening that if she spurned his advances he’d make sure she was never beautiful again, the mother said.

On Monday, around midnight, he allegedly carried out his threat.

Just a few hours earlier, Ayin had turned in early to get some sleep before a test the next day in preparation for a bagrut (matriculation) exam. She left the window open to let in some fresh air, her mother said.

Speaking through an interpreter, the mother said she had gone upstairs to close the window and come in to find her daughter screaming and splashing water on her face.

“She was screaming, ‘He did it, he burned me!’ She was yelling his name and said she heard another man with him.

She kept screaming, ‘Help me, help me,’” the mother said.

The woman described the terror her family has lived through for the past few days, afraid the man’s family will further target them and that Ayin will never see again.

The mother had the interpreter check this reporter’s press card and ID, saying she wanted to be sure there was no family relationship with the man believed to have hurt her daughter.

Her other four children – three girls and a boy – are staying with relatives in an Arab village outside Shibli, near Mount Tabor, she said.

They are afraid to come home, where the family of the man who allegedly disfigured their sister is only meters away and can see through the windows into their house.

The family feels even more vulnerable because there is no father at home – he died when Noor, the eldest child, was only four years old. Since then, the mother has raised her four children on welfare and with the help of her siblings.

According to the mother, the harassment of Ayin began when she was 14 and the suspect was in his late 40s. The mother said that when her daughter was home from school the neighbor would often send over his young son to bring her candies or ice cream. She said he would also offer her money and even drugs to be with her.

“We just thought he was crazy and didn’t complain to the police,” the mother said, adding that she didn’t want any trouble with the man’s family, especially with his eldest son, who she said had a history of violent offenses.

When asked to describe Ayin, the mother said her daughter was a beautiful and intelligent young woman, well-loved by friends and teachers at school – who have been calling her repeatedly since Tuesday. The girl had plans to study accounting after high school.

The harassment began to worsen about a month ago, the mother said, when Ayin became engaged to a 20- year-old university student in Jordan. The fiancé has still not been informed of the attack, and the family fears how he may react when he hears the news.

Doctors are waiting for the rest of the acid to work its way out of the girl’s system before they take her off anesthesia and have an eye specialist examine her to see if she will regain her vision. The acid splashed not only into her eyes, but also into her mouth, causing internal damage and impairing her ability to speak.

Ayin’s mother said the last time she spoke to her daughter was on Wednesday, when she regained consciousness.

“She held my hand and I told her I’d stay by her side, and she started crying, and then they put her under again.”

Northern District police have set up a task force to investigate the case. The suspect was arrested hours after the attack, and his remand was extended until Sunday. The family has requested that his name not be released and that Ayin’s identity be kept secret, as she is a minor.

David Ratner, director of public affairs and spokesman for Rambam Medical Center, said that over the past couple of days a chain of journalists had visited him, wanting to cover the case, including a number from the foreign press.

“This is something more fitting to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan. It’s not something people expect here,” Ratner said.
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