It’s all about giving back, says Adva Anter, giving to others like so many gave to us. That’s why I enlisted. I want to help my country. My brothers had wanted to do that also and now I’m taking their place. I hope they’re proud of me, their little sister. They would want me to help so that what happened to them would not happen to others.
Newly enlisted in the IDF, Adva recalls memories that she would rather forget. “It was going to be such a fun trip. What a Chanukah present! The family would be going to Mumbai, the first family trip out of the country. We arrived at the hotel full of excitement. My father wanted to rest up after the trip but my mother wanted a cup of coffee. I accompanied her to the receptionist desk and my two brothers, Dvir (15), Noy (12) were watching a show in the lobby. I was eight and all was well in my young world.”
Then it happened.
A jeep burst through the iron barrier at the entrance to the hotel and blew up at the doorway. Two deafening explosions were heard and fifteen people were killed instantly. Among the dead were three Israelis, two of them Adva’s older brothers. The dream vacation had turned into a nightmare.
“I remember black and a lot of screaming, but nothing more,” Adva shivers as she relates the story. “I must have fallen down, I felt as if something heavy was weighing on me. Then there was a second explosion. Everything in the hotel was made of wood and caught fire. Everything was burned.”
At that moment, Adva was transformed from an 8-1/2-year-old-child to a 20-year-old adult,
After the first explosion, her mother, Orah, ran to find her sons. “I was wounded, but I went to find Dvir and Noy,” she says. “I told Adva to stay on the floor, curled up, and not get up. Then I saw them and I knew. I don’t think that anyone ever told Adva in so many words that her brothers were killed. She saw the explosion herself and understood.”
Adva was seriously hurt. Her body was covered with burns and shrapnel wounds, and she lost some of her toes. Her mother was also seriously injured and to this day, she remains disabled in one leg. The two had to undergo skin grafts and extended rehabilitation, Adva in Schneider Children’s Hospital and Orah in Beilinson. “
Rami, Adva’s father, had the hardest time dealing with the situation. As the only one unharmed, he had to run from one hospital to the other, caring for his injured, remaining family members, while trying to be strong and not show how broken he felt at the loss of his two sons.
We had arrived back in Israel. A broken family. Lost. Bewildered. Traumatized.
But not alone.
Ezer Mizion was holding our hand and offering help before we even realized we needed it. We met them at Beilinson Hospital. We met them at Schneiders Hospital. Unable emotionally to return to his home and wanting to be near both hospitals to visit as often as possible, my father was offered a suite at Ezer Mizion’s Oranit-Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center. He had a place to stay but so much more than that. There were hot meals either at Oranit or delivered to him at both hospitals. There were snacks accompanied by hot coffee, sandwiches and, so very important, there were people. The people at Ezer Mizion understood and they really cared. Did he need a ride somewhere? A meal at the bedside of one of the patients while he waited days for a tiny sign of improvement? Medical equipment for one of us after our release? A knowledgeable professional to advise him on the myriad of details that were now part of his daily life? Someone to do the housework after our treatments were over and we rented an apartment,, improved but still broken, both in body and spirit? Someone to confide in-really confide in-someone who could empathize? Someone we could trust?
When my mother and I were released to continue our treatments on an out-patient basis, we joined my father at Ezer Mizion. That’s when we saw firsthand what my father had told us about while we lay in the hospital. Ezer Mizion was there for us, like a loving family. There were no nine-to-five hours, no ‘Sorry we cannot take your call now. Please leave a message…’. They embraced us and gave of themselves, with compassion and with professionalism, fulfilling all our needs.
“It’s ten years later. Payback time. I want to give like Ezer Mizion gave so much to my family.
I think that because of what I went through, serving in a combat unit as a battlefield medic, as far as I was concerned, was a given. IDF forces were the ones to come rescue us in the attack. I want to do everything I can so that what happened to me won’t happen to other people living here in Israel. I’m basically doing what Dvir and Noy wanted to and weren’t given the chance – to serve in the IDF. Noy always said that he wanted to be an Air Force pilot, and Dvir, I’m sure, would have gone into the Intelligence forces. He was a real genius. So I’m doing it for them, too.”
From Adva’s point of view, she is making a dream come true. But how do parents, who lost two of their children, react when their one remaining daughter asks their permission to enlist in a combat unit? It isn’t hard to imagine…
“She started talking about a combat unit back in junior high,” the mother related. “We thought she’d get over it, but she didn’t. In high school, her dream just intensified, and gradually, we began to make peace with it, even though we always hoped that in the end, she would drop the idea.
At the swearing-in ceremony at the end of basic training, I couldn’t help thinking of her brothers. I could picture them at my side, cheering on their younger sister. Yes, they would be proud of her and, in spite of my fears, I am, too.”