In a riveting example of the psychological and emotional toll the immense manhunt for three Israeli teens abducted – presumably by Hamas – is inflicting on Israelis, one of Israel’s top pediatric surgeon says he may have had enough.
“…the situation has really become intolerable,” admits Dr. David Mishali, who heads the International Congenital Heart Center at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
And his role operating on, among others, ailing Palestinians, while his son is a schoolmate of one of those abducted, only highlights and exacerbates the tragic complexity of life in the Jewish state.
The kidnapping of Gilad Shaar, 19, Eyal Yifrach, 16, and Nafatali Frankel, 16 from a rural hitchiking post in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Bethlehem – an otherwise relatively quiet part of the West Bank – on June 12th, has torn Israel apart, and running updates on the search have headlined hourly local news reports ever since.
In a feature which recently aired on Israel’s Channel 10 News, Mishali shared his internal deliberations on an impossibly complex reality, one in which he will operate on the infant child of a young Palestinian couple from Hebron – one of the prime areas security officials suspect the youths are being held captive.
Making the irony even more agonizing is the fact that Mishali’s own son is friends with one of the kidnapped youths, and is exposed to the same dangers, since the two attend the same religious high school.
Every evening before he begins his shift, he first drives over to the Mekor Haim school to briefly visit with his son, close to where the trio were last seen alive.
“Even when we were living in Gush Etzion, I operated on Palestinian children,” Mishali said. It was unclear if Mishali now resides within the Green Line, or in a community within Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
“And sometimes, along the way, they’d hurl rocks at me – and it never moved me, that I’d travel to operate on a Palestinian child; that I’d operate on the son of a ‘Hamasnik’ in Gaza,” he says, passing an IDF checkpoint on his nightly route to the medical center.
In the heartbreaking segment, he meets with the Palestinian couple at the hospital, and describes to them the ramifications of two alternative surgical options for their child, Karim.
Via an interpreter, Mishali gently lays out the odds of survival for the infant – a 10-to-15 percent mortality rate – if the parents opt for the more comprehensive – but riskier procedure.
“The couple are sitting across from a man who fixes hearts, but have no idea what he feels in his own,” the narrator says.
“We’re going out of our minds about the youths,” he tells the reporter, referring to the three students.
“And (the Israeli forces) are searching for them right near (the Palestinian couple’s homes). Maybe even inside their house,” Mishali says with a weary sigh. “…maybe the (youths) will be found in their garden – I don’t know,” he says, uncertainly.