Hila was an educational officer in the army. She was never involved in any fighting. 15 years ago, she took a lunch break from a meeting with three other friends. A car with two terrorists drove by. They were specifically looking to kill large numbers of people and, as they only saw Hila and her friends, they decided that wasn’t enough potential victims and drove on, looking for more targets. Not finding any more crowded areas, they returned to the bakery where yhe young girls were finishing lunch. They opened fire. One terrorist let off with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, the other shot his handgun while he walked towards a nearby school with a homicide belt on his waist, waiting to detonate where he could kill teachers and children. He was neutralized before reaching the school. The other terrorists was able to fire for a long time causing much devastation. Hila was hit with 8 bullets, in her elbows, arms, hands, legs and stomach, severing the main artery in her arm and a crucial artery in her leg. She lost so much blood that she lost her sight temporarily. She was rushed to Italy for special surgeries related to severe internal injuries. Hila has had 8 emergency surgeries to save her life, including one time her friends were called to come say their goodbyes as her doctor was sure she would not survive, and 16 total operations. Even though they have implanted nerves from her legs to her hands, she still does not have full use. Hila has spent thefirst 10 years after the attack hiding in baggy clothes. Only 5 years ago, she was so ashamed of the scars on her legs that she would not wear skirts, dresses or bathing suits. She was always worried about how her physical condition might be handled by a man and thought about it with each relationship. Recently, that has changed and is now married and has a child. It wasn’t until after we spoke with Hila did we have a chance to talk with one of her close friends who had recommended her to the project. We learned something that Hila would never tell us or take credit for: she had jumped on top of one of her friends, shielding her friend’s body with her own, absorbing more bullets and, most likely, saving a life. When we asked Hila about this, she graciously denied it. Two women died that day and Hila would like us to remember Aya Malachi, age 18 and Keren Rothstein, age 20.
Hila was tattooed on October 9th, 2017 by artist Russ Abbott at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.