On Thursday, June 3, 2010, fifteen year old Muhammed Kalalwe (on the right) was working in his families fields. They live in Jenin, which is the northern-most Palestinian enclave bordering Israel's Jezreel Valley and the city of Afula.
The boy noticed a deadly viper snake and tried killing it with a rock, but the dangerous creature struck out and bit his right palm. Screams and panic ensued and within minutes, the boy's father, Hafed (pictured on the left) grabbed his stricken son and rushed him to the Jenin Hospital. They were ill prepared to treat the boy, had no anti-serum and decided to send him by ambulance to Emek.
At the nearby border check point, only minutes away, the bureaucratic wheels turn slowly and three frustrating hours passed before the ambulance, Hafed and Muhammed were allowed into Israel. During that time, Hafed later told me that he was genuinely afraid to be taken to Emek because he was sure that they would be ignored and not even spoken to. His son's palm and arm were critically swollen and the pain was unbearable.
The humanitarian reality of Emek shocked both the father and son as they were immediately greeted in Arabic, rushed into the ER where Emek's multi-ethnic staff administered life-saving anti-serum and brought the boy back from the brink of death. Muhammed lay for the next two days in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and is now resting comfortably in Emek's Pediatric Surgical department from where he will be released in the next couple of days.
I asked the father how he felt now about Emek and the Israelis he has come into contact with. Staring me straight in the eyes he said, "Our people do not know the truth about you and our medicine has a long way to go. My son and I are not the same as we were before this happened and I will share this with my family and friends. May Allah bless all of you."
As he spoke, he gesticulated determinedly in a classic Middle Eastern style and when we shook hands as I wished them both well, the grip was firm and real. I have shaken many such hands and gazed into many Palestinian eyes that had seen here a reality that they never expected to see.
While walking back to my office, I passed one of my best friends - the Head of our Emergency Services, Dr. Azziz Daroushe who is a Muslim from the nearby Israeli village of Eksal. I asked him what he thought about this latest case where we were able to save another life from Jenin. With a twinkle in his eye and a knowing grin he answered, "It's a good thing that there are snakes."
Share the sane reality of Israel with as many as you can.
Director of Development
International Patients & Public Relations
Israel's Emek Medical Center
Phone in Israel ... 972-04-649 4417
Mobile in Israel ... 972-0505-737 641
Phone in New York ... 646-546 5970
Fax in Israel ... 972-04-652 2642
Email ... email@example.com
Emek Medical Center