Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and national chairman for the Organization of Victims of Terrorism Abie Moses.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
While all of them bear inner scars from the traumas they have endured, some, like national chairman for the Organization of Victims of Terrorism Abie Moses, also bear outer scars – in his case, burn marks that have faded slightly over the past 30 years but have not disappeared.
Moses, from Alfei Menashe, lost his 34-year-old, pregnant wife, Ofra, when a gasoline bomb was hurled at their car in November 1987. His five-year-old son, Tal, was also killed, and Moses and his two other children were severely burned.
At a ceremony at the President’s Residence on Tuesday geared toward recognizing wounded soldiers and victims of terrorism, he recalled the pain of telling his surviving children that life would be different without their mother and brother. Despite the physical and psychological hurdles that they had to overcome, Moses was proud that both had later served in the IDF.
Some of the soldiers who attended the event and had been critically injured in the line of duty, had fought a long battle to recover and despite suffering from post-trauma, returned to serve in the army once they were reasonably fit.
President Reuven Rivlin told of one such soldier, 12th Battalion Commander of the Golani Brigade Lt.-Col. Shai Simantov, who during Operation Protective Edge
was involved in a fierce battle in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza City. When a wall collapsed, Simantov became trapped in the rubble.
When he was eventually extricated, he was unconscious and barely hanging onto life. He was taken to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. When his wife asked doctors whether he would survive, they told her that they didn’t know.
Yet, against all odds, Simantov not only survived but was back in the army ten months later, where he subsequently received a promotion from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
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Rivlin and his wife visited Simantov several times during his long and difficult rehabilitation period. Most people would say that his recovery was a miracle, said Rivlin, but “it wasn’t a miracle. It was a personal battle that he won.”
Not all stories are as optimistic as that of Simantov’s, said Rivlin, who last week paid a visit to the family of Nechama Asulin to wish condolences for the passing of the girl who in 2011 was critically wounded in a terror attack in Jerusalem. She was only 14 at the time and never regained consciousness since the explosion near the city’s Central Bus Station.
Altogether, there are 70,000 wounded soldiers, veterans and victims of terrorism from all strata of society in Israel, said Rivlin. “We could do more for you,” he acknowledged, pledging: “And we will do more for you.”
“I’m here because we have a moral obligation to embrace and encourage you in your daily psychological and physical battle,” Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz told the some 120 soldiers and civilians who had gathered for the event. “We have to keep on proving our unity and solidarity against the enemy who seeks to destroy us.”
Aware that not all who were present receive what is owed to them from the state, Katz said, “It’s our duty to give you all the rights to which you are entitled.”
Contrary to recent media reports, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan told the crowd that motivation to join combat units is still high. He warned that it puts the country in jeopardy if that motivation declines.
Disabled Veterans Chairman Haim Bar, who for years has complained that disabled veterans are not getting their due, said that the Finance Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the National Insurance Institute have reached a better understanding with his organization, and today all disabled veterans are insured for nursing care.
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