The Grace of God

An Israeli woman’s story on being saved from a Palestinian mob ambush.

Rivi Lev-Ohayon and her husband with The Fellowship’s grant for victims of terrorism. (photo credit: COURTESY IFCJ)
Rivi Lev-Ohayon and her husband with The Fellowship’s grant for victims of terrorism.
(photo credit: COURTESY IFCJ)
‘It didn’t matter whether I continue or I turn back, I thought to myself. It was all over,” Rivi Lev-Ohayon recalls, her voice still trembling.
October 7 started as a regular day for the 38-year-old lawyer, whose office in Jerusalem is a short drive from her home settlement of Tekoa in the Judean Mountains. The mother of three left her house at 8:30 in the morning, driving past the colossal Herodian palace and small Palestinian villages, as she does every day, and was set to enter the capital any moment.
On Road 398, just as she reached the Beit Sahour checkpoint, however, she was ambushed by more than 10 Palestinian terrorists with large rocks in their hands, who began throwing them at Lev-Ohayon’s car, shattering the windows. They had their faces completely covered with their ultra-nationalistic keffiyehs. Only the murder in their eyes could be seen. 
“They had waited for a car right after there was a bend in the road, so I couldn’t see them ahead of time,” she says. “I hesitated for a second, thinking that if I continue they’ll stop me, so I decided to try to turn around and go back to my settlement.”
But escaping the mob wasn’t so easy. Lev-Ohayon started to do a U-turn, but the terrorists jumped on her car, breaking the driver’s-seat window and attacking her, simultaneously opening up the door, pulling her out of the vehicle and beating her. “I thought they were going to kill me. I thought I was going to die.”
Powerless in face of the mob, Lev-Ohayon, almost completely dragged out of the car could do nothing more to protect herself. “They kept kicking and beating me, and then all of sudden I heard someone scream “khalas,” (Arabic, and Hebrew slang, for “enough”). He wasn’t part of the mob. It was just someone who happened to be passing by.”
Clearly startled by the man, and possibly preparing themselves to clash with the army, which would be arriving any moment, the mob of Palestinian terrorists let up temporarily.
“This was the momentum I needed to save myself,” Lev-Ohayon says. “I got back in the car, closed the door and started driving back to Tekoa.”
With gashes on her forehead, mouth, jaw and hands and bruises on the rest of her body, Lev-Ohayon couldn’t wait for the army to secure the area and for an ambulance to arrive. She knew her best option for safety would be to drive back to her home settlement.  
“I told myself I’ve got to stay focused. I’ve got to remain cool. If I can just get back to Tekoa. There I’ll break down, there I’ll start to cry. But I’ve just got to remain strong so I can get back to my settlement,” she recalls. “Thank God it was over. It was truly a miracle that I was able to escape.”
Lev-Ohayon made it back to Tekoa, receiving emergency medical treatment there, and was subsequently transferred to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in good condition, being released home shortly after. 
“During the first few days [at home] I received a lot of telephone calls. From neighbors, clients and people who I haven’t even been in contact with them for a very long time,” she says. “It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of empathy, and the Jewish People’s sharing in my pain.”
A neighbor told Lev-Ohayon about an organization that not only shared in her pain, but was also willing to help her financially in recovering psychologically from the attack. A week after the attack and after conferring with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and senior ministry officials, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced that it would grant NIS 4,000 ($1,000) to every individual or family wounded in the recent wave of terrorist attacks against Israelis.
The IFCJ, which has given more than 70 grants of NIS 4,000 each, said the emergency aid was prompted by an outpouring of support from Christians across the United States. The aid will allow families victimized in the latest stabbings, shootings and assaults by vehicles to pay for hospital transportation, therapists, psychologists, other medical care, and lost workdays.
“I sent my details, attached a few documents and the next day I got a call, saying, ‘Someone’s going to come over tomorrow with a check.’ The Fellowship took care of it so quickly. I couldn’t believe how fast it was.”
Indeed, throughout the now more than five months of terrorist attacks, the IFCJ has consistently answered the call to help the suffering of Israel’s citizens and to reinforce the protectors of the Holy Land. The Fellowship distributed 4,100 backpacks to Jerusalem’s Border Police, each filled with supplies including a phone charger, fleece jacket, gloves, neck warmer, and water canteen. The backpacks are branded in Hebrew with the message: “To Border Police Soldiers with Fellowship.”
In addition, the Fellowship Van, operated by volunteers from the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers, has been making rounds throughout the country, distributing cold and warm drinks, snacks, ice cream and candy to the soldiers and police officers who have been working long shifts and in inclement weather to protect the country and its citizens. The Fellowship also donated a $375,000 state-of-the-art mobile command center to Jerusalem, which according to Mayor Nir Barkat will assist police in emergency situations, and also be utilized as a security hub for the many sports and cultural events that regularly take place in the city.
Meanwhile, Lev-Ohayon’s scars are gone and the bruises have almost all healed. But now, even as the spotlight remains on the miracle God performed for her, she must bear down and focus on becoming a healer herself, particularly for her five-year-old daughter.
During the ordeal, friends of the family took in the daughters, ages 5, 3 and 2. On the day that it all happened, the eldest daughter caught a glimpse of the news on the television and saw what she believed to be her mother – lying in a hospital bed, with bruises on her face and a huge gash on her forehead.
“The parents tried to calm her, saying that it wasn’t really me, and that it was someone who just happened to look like me,” Lev-Ohayon says. But her daughter wouldn’t give in. “She kept on saying, ‘no, that’s my mother. I know what she looks like and I can recognize her voice.”
When the daughter finally came home, there was no way to deny it anymore.
“She saw the car, with the broken glass, and she saw me, still recovering from my wounds and it didn’t take time for her to piece everything together.”
Lev-Ohayon went to ask for help what she should do with her daughter.
“They told me that I should tell her everything that happened, and that I should focus on the positive aspects of the event,” she says. “But, I still don’t know what to do. My daughter is still very occupied with this at the moment. Hopefully we will be able to get through this.”  
And, God willing, in a few months’ time, the caring mother will be blessed with another task. Unknown at the time of the attack, Lev-Ohayon is expecting a fourth child.
“Thank God. It’s simply a miracle that I was able to escape. I don’t want to think about what could have happened. And thank God none of my daughters was in the car with me at the time.”
Lev-Ohayon has been living in Tekoa for the past six-and-a-half years, and now while she won’t drive on Road 398 unless she absolutely has to, her love of the land and the settlement haven’t changed a bit.
“I really love Tekoa. My husband took me here, and I just fell in love with the place,” she says. “And it’s so clear to me that Tekoa is part of the Land of Israel. There is so much history here. Amos the Prophet is buried here. This area belongs to the Jewish People.”
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