Ayala Shapira, 13, spoke on Tuesday about the impact of a Molotov cocktail landing on the car seat next to her in December 2014, as she urged the European Union in Brussels to stop the Palestinian Authority from funding terrorism.
She was speaking at an event in the European Parliament building hosted by the Samaria Regional Council and a newly formed pro-settler caucus of 15 MEPs, called Friends of Judea and Samaria.
“I saw a ball of light coming towards us. My father quickly stepped on the brakes. The ball of light shattered my window and landed between us... I remember that everything around us was burning. I thought I was going to die,” Ayala said.
At the time of the attack, her father was driving her from a math club for gifted children in Kfar Saba to the family’s home in the West Bank outpost of El Matan, near the Ma’aleh Shomron settlement in Samaria.
Molotov cocktail attack on the Shapira family's car in the West Bank (December 2014)
“My entire left side was on fire, but I couldn’t free my seat belt with my left hand, so I put my right hand into the flames, too,” Ayala said.
She wore a special mask to protect her face, so that only her eyes and lips were showing. “The hardest thing is when people look at me...they look at me but ask...why am I all covered up?” she said.
“One of the terrorists who threw the Molotov cocktail at our car was a 16-yearold boy – only a few years older than me. He did it, among other reasons, to help his family economically; he knew that if he is put into prison, the Palestinian Authority would take care of them,” said Ayala.
“I want you to remember that sometimes when you think you are contributing to a peaceful cause, you’re actually contributing to murder, pain and war,” she said.
Ayala’s mother, Ruth, recalled the life-changing moment when her husband, Avner, called to tell her of the attack.
“[He] told me, ‘We’ve been hit by a Molotov cocktail, my battery is dying, call the police’ – and hung up,” Ruth said. “They didn’t wait for rescue forces on the empty road and began making it home on foot. When I saw them, Avner’s shirt was still on fire. I saw the extent of Ayala’s injuries only after she entered the house, in the light. She had horrible burns on her face and neck, on her chest, on her back and on the palms of both her hands.”
“Avner was hospitalized for several weeks, while Ayala was hospitalized for three weeks in intensive care, for two months in the regular ward and an additional five months in a rehabilitation ward,” she said. “She suffered 30% second- and third-degree burns on her face and her upper torso. She has undergone six operations and is expected to undergo more surgery in the future.”
Ruth described for the assembly how Ayala must wear a pressure garment 24 hours a day and cannot be exposed to sunlight.
While their lives have changed for the worse, the life of the terrorists’ families have changed for the better, because they receive a monthly salary from the Palestinian Authority.
“This is money they receive from you, from the countries of the European Union, who transfer hundreds of millions of euros a year to the Palestinian Authority without any supervision,” Ruth said.
“I call out to you, members of the European Parliament, members of the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria – to stop this Kafkaesque absurdity; to stop the encouragement of killing and destroying families done by the countries this House represents,” she said.
Her call was echoed by MEP Petr Mach, who heads a new pro-settler caucus group.
“We will urge our colleagues to vote against all budget proposals of the EU that support terrorism [against] Israel,” said Mach, a parliamentarian from the Czech Republic who heads the Free Citizens Party.
The group’s 15 parliamentarians represent only a fraction of the 751-member body that is known for its pro-Palestinian stances. Mach said he hoped to change that by providing information on Israel and the West Bank through leaflets and emails.
The EU provides the PA with some €300 million annually, of which €80m.
supports the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and another €150m. goes toward salaries and pensions. The remainder is spent on development.
Mach’s group also plans to push to include West Bank settlements in the EU’s freetrade agreement with Israel, which is only applicable to products produced within the pre-1967 borders. He said it was discriminatory that custom fees were imposed on settler goods but not on Palestinian products from the West Bank that enter the EU tax free.
“I call on members of the European Parliament and all friends of Israel to join our fight against this terror and antisemitism by buying products from Judea and Samaria,” Mach said.
“Europe cannot allow itself to take part in harming the free market and the only Jewish Democratic State in the Middle East.”