In this exclusive interview with United with Israel, the mother of a Palestinian shooting victim describes his devotion to Torah studies and the IDF.
By Batya Jerenberg, United With Israel
On December 13, As’am Barghouti got out of a car at the hitchhiking post near the Givat Asaf junction in Samaria and started shooting at a group of civilians and Kfir Brigade soldiers on guard at the site.
He killed St. Sergeant Yuval Mor Yosef, 20, of Ashkelon, and Sergeant Yosef Cohen, 19, of Beit Shemesh. He also seriously wounded 20-year-old Beit El resident Shira Sabag and another soldier, Nethaniel (Netanel) Felber, 21.
Sabag has since been moved to a regular ward in Shaare Zedek Hospital and is recovering from her injuries. Felber, who was shot in the head, is still in life-threatening condition according to doctors at the Neurological Intensive Care Unit of the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center, Arutz 7 reported Tuesday.
According to that report, his older brother Daniel told Army Radio, “The doctors say there’s been an improvement. Two days ago, he even opened one eye. But we still don’t know if he will ever wake up.”
In an interview with United with Israel on Tuesday, Felber’s mother, Judi, called his condition “stable,” while acknowledging that her son was not out of danger, saying, “They don’t have an estimate of when he will leave here.”
She was quick to praise his caregivers. “The nurses are great, so we know we are in good hands. He’s strong and he is a fighter, but he still needs lots of prayers,” she said, adding that his full name in Hebrew for such prayers is Netanel Ilan ben [son of] Shaina Tzippora.
‘He Was Proud to Serve his Country’
Judi drew a portrait of a strongly religious young man who was devoted to his Torah studies and friends and enjoyed serving in Nahal Haredi, a battalion in the Kfir Brigade that allows Orthodox Jewish men to serve in the IDF in an atmosphere conducive to their religious convictions
“He was proud to serve his country,” she asserted, noting that Netanel had been in the army for 16 months before being shot. “He tries to do his best in everything. He was able to inspire others to do their best as well. He was mostly doing guard duty, but sometimes participated in arrests. Even if it wasn’t the most exciting task, he gave his all.”
Before joining the IDF, Felber attended the Maoz Mechina (pre-army preparatory yeshiva) in Lod, where he studied Talmud and other Judaic subjects before being drafted.
Since then, his rabbi launched a new yeshiva in Petah Tikvah. “He wanted to follow his rabbi after his army service because he loved Torah learning so much,” Judi said. “When the army brought his bags to us, we were amazed at how many Torah books he had with him.” And although he liked to “hang out” with friends, going for pizza and burgers, more often than not they would delve into Torah subjects together.
The youngest of three children, Felber was nine when the family made aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Silver Spring, MD., in 2006. He had no problems adjusting to his new life.
“He is so easygoing that he found his new chevra [group of friends] right away,” Judi commented. “He is still close with those boys, even though they all went separate ways during high school.”
In general, she added, “Aliyah was a good move for our family. I am really proud of my kids. Daniel was 14 and Adina was 12 when we moved here. It has not been easy, but it was the right thing for our family.”
The family lives in Raanana, one of the Anglo-Saxon bastions in Israel, and the community has been unflagging in its support since the attack, bringing daily meals to the hospital and taking care of errands so that the family can concentrate on Netanel.
IDF ‘Really Attentive to our Needs’
Finally, when asked if the family has any information regarding the hunt for the Givat Asaf terrorist, she had no new information to share but praised the IDF’s conduct towards the family.
“The army has been really attentive to our needs,” she stressed. “They update us as much as they can.”
This act of terrorism that has transformed the Felber family’s life was one of 33 Palestinian shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2018, according to data released by the IDF on Monday. There were also 17 stabbing attacks and 893 fire-bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists in the region, killing 16 Israelis and wounding dozens more.
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