Ten years after losing his leg in a terror attack that left his mother and three of his siblings dead, Asael Shabo is set to accomplish an extraordinary feat on Saturday by competing in a 6km race.
On June 20, 2002, a terrorist belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine sneaked into the West Bank settlement of Itamar, broke into the Shabo family's home and launched a killing rampage.
Asael's mother, Rachel, and his brothers Neria, 15, Zvika, 12, and Avishai, 5, were shot dead in the attack. Asael, who was 9-years-old at the time, suffered a wound to his leg, but managed to survive the ordeal by pretending to be dead. His sister, Avia, was injured as well, but managed to escape.
The assailant also managed to kill the Shabos' neighbor, Yosi Twito, before being shot down by IDF troops.
But Asael, whose right leg was amputated as result of the injury, refused to give in to his disability. After a grueling rehabilitation process, with the help of the ILAN, Israel`s Foundation for the Handicapped, Asael became an athlete.
Some of his achievements to date include becoming Israel's champion disabled swimmer in the freestyle 50m category and joining the national wheelchair basketball team.
'I never stop missing them'
On Saturday, Asael is set to run for the first time since he was injured – and compete alongside runners without disabilities.
"It won't be easy," Asael, now 19, said. "I don't have a leg, but I have great willpower. With the help of roller skates and crutches, and with my friends cheering me on, I will reach the finish line."
Asael now lives in Kedumim, a settlement west of Itamar.
"I never stop missing them," Asael said of his deceased mother and siblings. "It hurts every day, but I don't want to be pitied.
"My friends at ILAN helped me a lot, and have cheered me to go out and train for the race," he added.
The race, which is set to take place in Kfar Saba this weekend, is held in memory of Sergeant Major Ziv Balali, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War. Some 8,000 runners are expected to participate in the event.