Palestinian family in taxi attack has slow recovery

Father traveling in taxi hit with Molotov cocktail comes out of ten-day coma; victims undergo skin-graft surgery.

Hassan Jayada 370 (photo credit: Ilene Prusher)
Hassan Jayada 370
(photo credit: Ilene Prusher)
Though they have long since disappeared from headlines, the members of the Jayada family still wait each day for news of something hopeful. When it comes, the update spreads like wildfire, going out by text message to hundreds of relatives who want to know. Five-year-old Muhammad’s skin graft surgery went well, as did the one for Bassam, who’d been driving.
Muhammad’s father, Ayman, who was critically injured when the car he and the five others was traveling in was hit with a Molotov cocktail on August 16, has come out of his 10-day coma.
He was moved late last week from the intensive care unit of the Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem to a regular plastic surgery ward.
He is a few doors down from his brother, Hassan, who, like Bassem and Muhammad, suffered third-degree burns over about 30 percent of his body.
Ayman, who took a direct hit from the Molotov cocktail and has burns over about 45% of his body, is just now beginning to speak in a whisper.
“How are the kids?” he asks, barely audible.
“They’re fine, thank God,” responds his wife, Jamila, her cheeks still glowing with the burns she suffered in the attack. “They’re at home,” she lies.
Jamila, who also sustained serious burns on her hands, is still receiving treatment but was discharged from the hospital last week. She visits every day, shuttling between her husband’s bedside and that of Muhammad, both of whom face several more skin graft surgeries. The family has decided that it is to early in Ayman’s recovery to tell him that his beloved and only son sustained such terrible injuries in the attack. His younger daughter, Iman, four, was released from the hospital on the same day as the attack, and along with two other daughters, is being cared for by relatives.
Three Israeli youths, ages 12 and 13, from the settlement of Bat Ayin, were arrested in connection with the attack and have all since been released. Honenu, a legal aid organization representing people “who at times due to the security situation are persecuted by certain government authorities and a court system heavily influenced and pressured by anti-Israel ‘human rights’ groups,” according to the organization’s website, says the three youths are innocent.
“The detention was superfluous and meaningless. The release proves it,” attorney David Halevi said in a press statement.
The Jayada family lives in Nahalin, a village located inside an enclave in the Gush Etzion bloc, surrounded by the settlements of Betar Illit, Gvaot, Neveh Daniel and Rosh Tzurim. Most family members are day laborers who work in construction, both inside the Green Line and in nearby settlements.
Hassan, 27, looks down at his arms, wrapped in bandages from shoulder to finger, and worries that it will be a long time before he can work again. He has had several skin graft surgeries but still has a difficult time moving his fingers.
“I’m afraid that I’ll have problems with my hands – they’re not sure if some of the damage will be disabling.
They told me it might be a very long time before I can try to work with my hands again,” said Hassan. “It is always hurting. It doesn’t stop.
“What these teenagers did is very dangerous, and it doesn’t really matter if they’re young or old. I think young people are even more dangerous and willing to do crazy things,” he said. “It is up to the police to figure out if it is the right people or not. But I give them credit for arresting people and taking this seriously. I hope they’ll catch people who do violent things, whether they’re Jewish or Arab.”
Dr. Avraham Neuman, who has been caring for all members of the Jayada family, expects all of them to be released in the next two weeks, with the exception of Ayman, who may need to stay longer.
“I think they’ll all return to what they did,” said Neuman, the head of the plastic surgery and burn department.
“They won’t be permanently disabled,” he offered optimistically.
Members of the family say that they’ve been receiving excellent care at Hadassah.
Neuman says he is not surprised, and added that about half of the medical professionals treating the family are Arab.
“When we take care of people, we are busy doing what we do. If we would get emotional about it, we wouldn’t get anything done,” he says. “We are investing our 100% in everyone, doesn’t matter if he is Jewish or Arab, religious or secular, black or white. If there is someone who has a doubt that Jews and Arabs can’t live together, they should come to the hospital and see it.”
It is not clear, however, who will be responsible for the enormous bill incurred by the family. A Hadassah spokeswoman said it was not clear who would pay, and that in the meantime the hospital itself is absorbing the costs.
“The State of Israel can’t say it is responsible, because [it] didn’t do it,” Neuman said. “But Hadassah will not ask for the money, not from the family anyway, but perhaps from the Defense Ministry.”