Israelis over the weekend raised NIS 1.3 million ($337,000) to make the home of an IDF veteran badly hurt in the 2014 Gaza war wheelchair-accessible, after the Defense Ministry denied him coverage because he lives in a West Bank settlement.
Yehuda Yitzhak HaYisraeli was critically injured in Gaza and remained in a coma for over a year. After nearly two years of hospitalization, HaYisraeli, who is married and has two children, was set to be discharged.
But citing its policy on construction in his settlement of Ofra, the Defense Ministry said it could not renovate the home, including building a ramp and a new housing unit, to accommodate his disability.
The right-wing My Israel organization last week set up a crowdfunding campaign to cover the construction costs, estimated at some NIS 600,000 ($155,000). Over the weekend, over 7,000 people donated, doubling the fundraising goal to hit NIS 1.3 million. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog also donated some NIS 1,000 ($259) to HaYisraeli.
The family on Sunday thanked the donors, but indicated they would wait for the government permits before beginning construction.
“We are still waiting for the answers from our leaders: from the prime minister, from the defense minister, that tell us that they want, that they are spearheading the effort to bring Yehuda home,” Iris HaYisraeli, the wounded soldier’s mother, told Army Radio.
A video posted by My Israel showed Yehuda HaYisraeli thanking donors.
The Defense Ministry maintains that it has offered the family alternatives for HaYisraeli’s rehabilitation, but Iris HaYisraeli insisted in the radio interview that the offers were unreasonable and would require the family to move.
A Givati Brigade soldier, HaYisraeli was injured in Rafah on August 1 — later dubbed “Black Friday” — during heavy fighting to rescue abducted IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, who was later pronounced dead by the Israeli army.