"We couldn't believe it; our world came crashing down. We had heard about leukemia before, from stories from other people; but until it touches you, you don't know how to cope with it. It's a feeling of total helplessness. You ask yourself: How did it happen to us?"
Sitting at the bedside of their son in the Oncology Ward of Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital in Haifa, 42-year-old Tsion and his wife Arianna struggle to hold back their anger in the wake of the recent report on the increase in the number of children who have contracted cancer as a result of the air pollution in the city.
They don't know the cause of Yaheli's cancer, or if it has anything to do with the air pollution in Haifa, but studies have shown that exposure to benzene in the air can cause leukemia.
"The fact that they aren't dealing with the contaminating factories makes me very angry," Tsion says.
"On the one hand, Mayor Yona Yahav is conducting a struggle of sorts; but on the other hand, I've heard that he's approved the Oil Refineries' expansion plans. I don't get it. I think he needs to do something that will bring the pollution levels down to zero – the technology to do so exists and therefore they must prevent this pollution."
Since being diagnosed with leukemia, Yaheli has been undergoing a series of treatments. "He is hospitalized for four days and then he's at home for a week – and that's how it's been for the past month and a half," Tsion says.
"There are days when the treatments make him weak, and there are better days – but, thank God, his body is handling the treatments well."