A Jewish man who was badly injured when he was beaten by an Arab mob has told of his joy at reuniting with the Arab nurse who saved him.
Fadi Kasem, a nurse at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, went to a riot scene in Acre two weeks ago, during a spike in Arab-Jewish violence, accompanying a sheikh who was appealing for calm.
An 11-day conflict between Israel and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, which ended Friday, sparked violent riots in Jewish-Arab cities within Israel, including communities long seen as models of coexistence. At least two people were killed in the riots and several others were seriously injured.
When Kasem arrived at the scene in Acre he was shocked to see a Jewish man lying on the ground after he had been surrounded in his car and then attacked outside the vehicle by a mob wielding stones, sticks and knives. “I was scared he was going to die,” said Kasem, 28. “There was lots of blood and a head injury.”
Kasem administered first aid to the victim, Mor Ganashvili, 29, and saw him taken to the hospital where Kasem works.
Ganashvili has just been released from the hospital. He is back home in Haifa, still in a wheelchair and in significant pain, but recovering and convinced that Kasem’s intervention made all the difference.
“I’m just so grateful to him,” Ganashvili told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. “I had lost consciousness when he got to me, but remember waking up and hearing him comforting me and caring for me.”
Just before Ganashvili was discharged from the hospital, Kasem paid a visit to his room, and told The Times of Israel afterwards of the meeting. “It was extremely emotional and a real joy to see him alive and well,” he said. “I cried during the encounter.”
Ganashvili said to him: “You saved my life. I don’t know what I would have done without you.” Kasem replied modestly: “I did what had to be done.”
“It was a very moving meeting,” Ganashvili recalled to The Times of Israel. “After all, in a place where people weren’t showing humanity, he showed such great humanity.”
He described the attack, saying: “It all started when the attackers saw the Israeli flag on my car. They targeted the car and I drove into a wall. I got out and they attacked me with stones, sticks and knives. It was very scary.”
During the reunion with Kasem, he said that he found it hard to believe that he would return to Acre, where he had been visiting his mom, anytime soon. Kasem said he mustn’t lose faith in coexistence.
“Don’t talk like that,” he said. “Even in 2008, when there were severe riots in Acre, people did not believe coexistence would return, and everything went back to normal. Overall, most Acre residents are good and sane people, who advocate for coexistence.”
Kasem promised: “We will stay in touch and I will take you to eat hummus in Acre’s Old City when you recover. We are like a family. Your home is my home.”
Simona Weinglass contributed to this report.