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Four eyes, dead and alive

By Pesach Benson

JERUSALEM — In an emotional encounter, the family of Yagel and Hillel Yaniv, two brothers who were killed in a terrorist attack in February, met with the four recipients of their corneas at Petah Tikvah’s Beilinson Hospital on June 18.

At the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikvah, Shalom Yaniv, left, father of terror victims Hillel and Yagael Yaniv, hugs Ron Carmeli, who received a donated cornea, on June 18, 2023. (Yossi Zeliger/TPS)

“We are in a happy event, there are people here whose ability to see has been returned. It is a wonder of wonders. The light of Hillel Weigel’s eyes still shines in the world,” said father Shalom Yaniv.

One of the recipients, 66-year-old Ron Carmeli of Petah Tikvah, said he’s been looking forward to seeing his granddaughter, playing with her and taking her to the zoo.

“You can feel the dramatic movement in this transition from evil to boundless love, given without limits,” said Carmeli.

Itzhak Buskila, a 42-year-old husband and father of three children from Tirat HaCarmel near Haifa who looks forward to returning to work in warehouse logistics for a food distributor, read an emotional letter to parents Shalom and Esti Yaniv.

“You are a larger than life family. In the most difficult hours, you thought about giving and love. Thanks to you, my sight has been returned. I will never forget the moment they informed me that a donor had been found. Thanks to you, my children will have a father who can see them grow up.”

Also receiving corneas were Ziona Zalzberg, 68, of Migdal Haemek, near Nazareth, who loves traveling and looks forward to doing “everyday tasks” on her own, and Tal Almos, a 44-year-old husband and father of three from the coastal town of Atlit, near Haifa. Almos was born with an eye disease and had a cornea transplant years ago. He lost his vision in an accident two years ago.

Hillel and Yagael Yaniv were killed in a drive-by shooting in the Palestinian village of Huwara, south of Nablus in February. Their car was rammed by Palestinians, forcing it to the side of the road. The brothers were then shot to death at point blank range.

Hillel was studying in a hesder program which combines military service with religious studies in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona. The 21-year-old was a staff sergeant in the Israeli Navy, who served in a patrol boat squadron.

Yagael, who was two weeks away from his twentieth birthday, was studying in a similar hesder program in the coastal town of Givat Olga. He was seeking to qualify to serve in a combat unit.

Both had signed organ donor cards.

A recent study by Israel Transplant, which helps hospitals find organ donor candidates, found that 60% of Israelis are now willing to become organ donors.

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