Muslim helps bring sick Jewish Ukrainian Holocaust survivor to Israel

United Hatzalah volunteers, including Khaled Hardan, flew to Warsaw to accompany Donia to Israel to reunite with her family after she fled her war-torn country.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a heartwarming story crossing religious lines, a Muslim Israeli helped a Jewish Holocaust survivor who had fled Ukraine and needed medical aid to ensure her wellbeing on the flight to Israel to reunite with her family, United Hatzalah reported on Tuesday.

Donia, whose last name was not disclosed by United Hatzalah, was born in 1935 and saw her mother and sister murdered by the Nazis when she was only seven years old. She survived World War II, moved to Ukraine, married and lived quietly in Odessa until the Russians invaded her country in February.

Since she had a daughter and granddaughter living in Israel, Donia decided that this was the time to join them. She managed to get to safety in Warsaw, Poland, with the aid of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and her grandson, who was allowed to temporarily leave the country in order to help her.

While the Jewish Agency arranged her flight, United Hatzalah sent two paramedics to the Polish capital because of her “severe medical condition,” the rescue group said. Paramedic Khaled Hardan from Wadi Ara and Russian-speaking EMT Vicki Tiferet of Moshav Yuval ensured that Donia was in stable enough condition to fly and cared for her throughout the flight.

They also took care of another, male refugee from Mariupol who had suffered a medical complication before the flight that left him immobilized and in need of constant medical attention.

“This was a blessing for me to be able to go and help these people come to a safe place having fled the war in Ukraine,” said Hardan. “I am happy that I was part of the team that was able to bring them to Israel. I was blessed to be able to stand by this family and this woman and provide them with medical care during their journey.”

Upon arrival in Israel, United Hatzalah ambulance teams took them directly from the airport to medical facilities so that they could continue their treatments and receive the proper care that they required.

At least 12 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine since the start of the war. More than five million have left the country altogether, mostly for neighboring countries in Europe.

Israel has by now taken in some 33,000 Ukrainians, almost two thirds of whom are not even eligible to become citizens. Another 20,000 Ukrainian nationals who had already been in the country on work or tourist visas have been allowed to stay until the crisis is over.

Of those who can become citizens under the Law of Return (meaning they have at least one Jewish grandparent), almost 6,000 are officially new immigrants, and at least 4,730 others in the midst of the bureaucratic process of becoming Israeli.