US President Barack Obama was welcomed in Israel last week with the expected fanfare.
guards and photo-ops, handshakes and press conferences. State dinners
and children’s choirs, speeches to university students (unless you study
in Ariel), and wreath-laying ceremonies were also on the agenda.
this was a trip aimed at improving the president’s public relations and
popularity, or if the intention was truly to discuss and implement
decisions regarding important matters such as Iran, Syria and the
Palestinians, while the world’s attention was on Jerusalem, another
significant and interconnected story, albeit a tragic one, was
developing just an hour away in a Petah Tikva hospital.
receiving only limited media coverage, as of this writing, two-year-old
Adele Biton, the youngest daughter and child of Yakir residents Rafi and
Adva Biton, remains fighting for life.
Driving home from Ariel
on Route 5 after a visit with their mother and grandmother, Adva and
three of her daughters were wounded (the oldest daughter was not in the
car at the time) when Palestinian terrorists hurled not pebbles, or
small rocks, but what looks like large concrete blocks at the Bitons’
car, causing it to swerve and ram into a truck parked on the side of the
The impact was so severe that the Bitons’ car became
trapped under the truck, with emergency services requiring an extended
period of time to extricate the victims.
While Adva and the two
older daughters in the car were moderately wounded, little Adele
suffered severe trauma and was listed in critical condition.
Some reports indicate that she required life-saving resuscitation on the scene after losing her pulse.
hospitalization at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Adele was
transferred to the adjacent Schneider Children’s Medical Center where
she underwent several surgeries to relieve the pressure on her brain. At
this point doctors are saying that they’ve done all that they can, and
are just waiting – hoping and praying that Adele recovers.
round the clock in Schneider’s intensivecare waiting room, Rafi and
Adva are surrounded by close friends, hoping for any positive news from
The dark purple bruises encircling Adva’s
eyes and those on her neck are a clear indication of the severity of the
crash. Despite the circumstances, the Bitons are somehow able to
maintain an upbeat and even positive demeanor.
“It’s a miracle
that anyone survived,” says Rafi, grateful that his wife and two other
daughters are no longer in need of hospitalization. Rafi says that at
the time of the attack, he was driving in the opposite direction toward
Ariel when he saw a commotion on the other side of the road amid the
Little did he know at the time, but it was his own family that was the target of an attack.
the incident, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett reminded his
Facebook followers that “rocks kill.” He added, “Some people take
rock-throwing lightly, and prevent action against them,” seemingly
referring to fellow politicians and lawmakers who he feels aren’t tough
enough on those who favor rocks as their weapon of choice.
“Rock-throwers are trying to murder and they need to be treated
accordingly,” he said.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman
went a step further after the attack and, according to The Jerusalem
Post, urged incoming Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to change the IDF’s
rules of engagement to instruct soldiers to open fire at “rock-throwing
“Rock-throwing [should] be treated like shooting
using firearms,” he said, adding that “only this kind of change will
stop civilians and soldiers from being targeted by Arab rioters and
But for Rafi and Adva, the focus isn’t on IDF
policy, it isn’t on reports they heard indicating that the perpetrators
of the attack might have been apprehended, and it certainly isn’t on
President Obama’s visit and any magical formulas for “peace” that he may
have brought with him, but on the well-being of little Adele.
asked what this reporter or the general public could do to help the
family, Rafi gives a short response, “Please just pray.”
that he is grateful for the kindness shown by his close-knit community
of Yakir, whether in keeping the family company at the hospital, with
meals, or looking after the other children, (his cellphone doesn’t stop
ringing throughout our short conversation as well-wishers call to check
on Adele’s health), but all he is asking from compassionate people
around the world is their prayers.
Arriving at my office near the
center of Jerusalem a few days after the hospital visit, as thousands
of security personnel are on duty for Obama’s trip, I try locating the
Biton’s contact information so that I can check on Adele’s well being.
With a telephone listing indicating three Biton families living in Yakir, I call the wrong number.
isn’t the Biton family you are looking for,” the woman on the other end
of the line says, “but I’m a friend of the family, and I know the news
isn’t any better.”
After she gives me the correct contact
information, I apologize for my mistake. The woman on the line says that
it’s okay, “Adele, is all of our daughters.” Please pray for a full
recovery for Adele Chaya bat Adva!
The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist, and host of Reality Bytes Radio on www.israelnationalradio.com.