JERUSALEM – A shared commitment to life after the deaths of a Jewish man and an Arab teenager in Israeli communal violence has brought a rare ray of hope that divisions can be bridged.
While fighting Palestinian militants in Gaza this month, a shaken Israel grappled with an eruption of violence on city streets between Jews and the country’s Arab minority.
Yigal Yehoshua, 56, was killed by Arab rioters in the city of Lod, near Tel Aviv. Muhammad Mahammid Kiwan, 17, died in the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm during clashes with Israeli riot police.
Yehoshua’s family agreed to donate his organs. The Jewish man’s kidney went to Randa Aweis, a 59-year-old Palestinian woman from Jerusalem, an outcome they warmly embraced.
Kiwan’s family also agreed that the Arab youth’s organs should be transplanted to help others.
Back at home making stuffed grapes, Aweis, who had waited years for a new kidney, said: “I was shocked. I was shocked. I was happy, but also shocked.”
She said Yehoshua’s wife, in tears, had spoken to her via phone video, telling her to “be healthy”.
“I hope there will be peace between (the) two sides,” Aweis said.
Yehoshua’s brother, Efraim, said that “with God’s help, we will meet her and her family and will rejoice together that she is healthier now.
“I think that we may be a symbol of co-existence,” he said, adding that “saving lives, no matter whose,” was paramount.
In Umm al-Fahm, Muhammad Kiwan’s father, Mahmoud, voiced a similar sentiment.
“Thank God, there were six human beings who were in danger and they survived due to (my son’s) organs, and I am proud of that,” he said.
“We wish them full recovery, whatever and whoever they are.”