Nearly 45 years after being rescued from a near-death experience during the Six Day War, a Palestinian woman met the Israeli officer who saved her.
Miriam Yassin, 60, a resident of the Palestinian village of Anin, was only 15 when she was injured in a shelling. Hezi Erez, now 75, served in 1967 as a junior commander in the region.
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"When I arrived at the village, a local man came up to me and asked for help. He was sad and scared, and told me that his daughter was seriously hurt," Erez told Ynet.
Erez and Yassin in Um al-Fahm (Photo: Hassan Shaalan)
Erez said that he acted of his own accord and with no authorization from any senior commander when he dropped everything to take the girl to the hospital. Her entire family accompanied them as they drove to a military roadblock near Megiddo Junction, where the troops tried to stop them.
"I came out of the car yelling, and demanded them to open the roadblock because the girl needed medical attention," he said. The troops relented and let them through.
"A few days ago I told this story to my son, and he decided he really wants to meet her, even though I didn't even know whether she was still alive," he said.
'We're all human beings'
Erez got in touch with a local newspaper, Al-Masar, and a reporter helped him track Yassin down. A mother to nine sons a grandmother to 26 grandkids, she was still living in her hometown. She never believed she would see the man who rescued her again. The two met earlier this week in Umm al-Fahm.
"I can't forget how he helped me during the war," Yassin said. "He brought me back to life when I was in critical condition. I am willing to sacrifice my life for him.
"I always tell my children about how I was injured, and about the Jewish man who saved me," she added. "It's about time they met him up close."
Yassin said she was grateful to her "hero," and that "It's rare to find people like him." She expressed hope for a better future for the Israelis and the Palestinians.
"They should co-exist, without killing," she said. "Our home is always open to Erez's family. I will never forget him."
Erez, meanwhile, shied away from the praise.
"I am happy that I got to see the woman that I saved," he said. "What I did was human. When all is said and done, we're all people."
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