There is a white bandage around Kako’s head. The one and a half year old baby is connected to a respirator and an IV, her eyes are half closed. Ten days have passed since a 50-year-old Israeli man attacked the baby at the Tel Aviv central bus station, stabbing the young child in the head, severely wounding her while she was in the arms of her mother Yordanes, an Eritrean asylum seeker.
Yordanes, 27, looks at her baby daughter, hospitalized in the intensive care unit at the Dana children’s ward at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital. She will not leave her child’s side, refusing to sleep in the room designated for parents at the end of the hall. Mulo, 27, the child’s father, also an Eritrean asylum seeker, comes to the hospital after working a shift at the Hetzi Hinam supermarket, along with the couple’s first daughter, 3-year-old Rut. “It’s very hard,” he says. “I can’t understand how someone could so cruelly harm a small baby. Nowhere in the world do they treat babies like that.”
The mother takes a deep breath, and recounts the attack. “It was a Friday evening, I was on my way to my brother-in-law’s. Kako was in my arms. At the entrance to the central bus station, a white Israeli man approached us. Suddenly he pounced on us and stabbed Kako in the head with scissors, while she was in my arms. I remember that I saw her bleeding from the head, and my hand was full of blood. At first, I froze. I couldn’t even call the police. I felt like I had no power over my body.”
Yordanes saw the attacker fleeing the scene, and began to chase after him. “I was afraid he’d run away,” she says, her body shaking. “He went toward the taxis outside, spoke with people, smoked a cigarette, even went into a store and ate something. When he came out, he tried to dispose of the scissors, but just then the police came in and caught him.” Both parents seemed distanced, recalling even the most terrible details in a restrained tone. “We’ve stopped crying,” says Yordanes, without really managing to stop the flow of tears. “We’re constantly praying for our daughter to recover.”
Dr. Ephraim Sadot, head of the intensive care unit at the hospital, described Kako’s medical condition. “The girl was admitted with a wound from a sharp object that penetrated her brain. She was operated on, and has been hospitalized since Friday. She’s been on a respirator, and unconscious, in order to give her brain the ideal conditions for recuperation. As far as we know, some wounds are irreversible, but it’s too soon to tell if her functions will be impaired.” The doctor believes there is a long road ahead. “She needs to recuperate, and perhaps go through rehabilitation in the future. She will only be released in a few weeks.”
Yordanes and Mulo met in Israel roughly four years ago, after they both escaped from Eritrea. When asked if they regret fleeing to Israel, Mulo says, “I’m sorry that I came. My friends who escaped to Canada and the United States have rights, and get treated properly. What do we have here?” he says. “Every day since the stabbing, I’m sorry that I came to Israel. There are also good people here, but I’m not considered a person, because of the color of my skin.
“We miss our country,” he says. “Not a day goes by that we don’t think of home. I know that this is not my place, especially after what happened, but I ask that until the situation in our country improves, that we be treated as people.”
Israel Police officials say that since the incident, the suspect has been mentally unstable, and that he was drunk when he stabbed the infant. Also, police officials claim it was a criminal act, and not racially motivated. A police spokesman said the suspect was arrested on the day of the incident and brought before a court the following evening, and since then has been hospitalized at Abarbanel Mental Health Center for observation.
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