Geneva, July 6, 2009
Distinguished guests, permit me, distinguished panelists, please permit me to say something from the heart. Even though I wrote it down on paper because I’ve never been in such a situation ever in my life of such status, but I’ve come here to give you my personal story, my personal tragedy. I am not a politician. I don’t deal in politics. Just what happened to me. That’s my purpose in coming here.
I’m 53 years old. I was born in Romania. I studied medicine in Romania. That’s where I met my husband and I came to Israel to be with him. He too is a physician. I arrived in Israel in 1984. I live in Ashkelon in Israel. I am in gynecology. I am known in my city by many patients. I have many patients and I have many women patients from Gaza who would come to me before the Intifada, they would come to me for treatment.
My life was quiet, was calm, more or less. You know, like anywhere in the world with the usual day-to-day issues of ordinary life that everyone confronts. I raised two children. You can see the pictures of my family, my two children. I have a family that is beautiful, wonderful, very supportive. They support me greatly. Without them I could not have gone through everything I went through. That’s why I brought it for you to see. My daughter, to see my son, to see my husband who are constantly with me. They have been very, very helpful and supportive.
Here I am with my son. He’s 16. He’s in high school and this is my husband and my daughter in the pictures. My daughter, who by the way is attending Tel Aviv University, she’s studying international relations. This whole quiet life that I had was altered in a split second in a moment when one day in May 2008 in the evening without any alert, without any prior warning a rocket landed in the clinic where I was working. I must say that at that time it was a very tense time. There were many rockets landing in the area, but for some reason I continued to work because I knew that and I felt I was secure in my clinic. I knew that I’m in a hospital in a clinic and places like that in infirmaries where people are being treated nothing’s going to happen. It’s a protected place. And yet it happened.
Within a split second the place was utterly demolished. The clinic is situated at the upper story of one of the shopping malls in Ashkelon and I found myself under the debris. For a few seconds I lost consciousness, but then very quickly I became conscious again. I understood what was happening at that moment and I saw blood, a lot of blood coming out of my left arm, but I couldn’t do anything to stop the bleeding.
In the room with me was a patient and I was concerned all the time to talk to her to tell her not to fall asleep and to remain awake until someone comes to save us. The patient, too, was critically wounded. She got to the hospital with her abdomen open and her intestines exposed.
Instinctively I looked for my mobile phone and I called my husband who is also a physician and I told him that I had been very badly injured and that he should come to save me. My worst injury was in the face. I felt like a ball of fire being – spinning inside my face. All of my teeth flew out at the moment. I have false teeth.
But the rescue team came and took me and quickly transferred me to a hospital. I want to show the pictures. Those are the pictures. From that moment on my life changed radically. I heard that in that event there were over 100 people wounded in the shopping mall. Just people who were shoppers; various types of injuries.
Since then I’ve undergone six operations; five plastic operations and one in the mouth for my teeth. I’m waiting to finish that whole implant procedure. I have a piece of shrapnel almost 4 centimeters lodged on the left side of my back very close to the spine, but at the moment it cannot be removed. Perhaps it will never be removed so long as it doesn’t cause other complications. I have to go more operations, including as I said the teeth implantations. I hope that makes me look better. It’s very difficult for me to endure the way I look and it also impairs my breathing. I apologize.
But of course the worst is my psychological state. What was my sin? What was my crime? I’m a Jewish physician working in Ashkelon. I studied medicine to help people. I didn’t care if they were from Gaza, from anywhere in the world, from Israel, wherever. What was my crime? What did I do wrong? Why did I wind up in this situation? I just want to mention that I’m just an ordinary citizen.
I never played a role in any act of war. I never took part in any battles. I don’t even know what battles are about. I have no understanding of terrorism. I want you to understand that. I have no understanding of killing children, killing women, ordinary people, innocent people, but never the less I do have a great deal of sorrow for all of the victims, for the children and the women on the other side. They too are innocent. This has to stop. It has to stop.
I have a letter from the police, the Israeli police that says that the rocket that hit me was sent by the Islamic Jihad. This isn’t a state that’s at war with the state of Israel. It’s a terrorist organization. This has to stop. Enough of this bloodshed. Enough of this suffering of everyone, of all innocent people on both sides. I – I apologize. This is my story. This is what I’m immersed in. Thank you very much.