Policewoman Critically Wounded in Jerusalem Attack Testifies Against Terrorist

Stabbing left Tsippi Yacovian paralyzed from the waist down; she spoke in court about the moments after her attack and her medical struggles

Nir Hasson
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Tsippi Yacovian with her family in court
Tsippi Yacovian with her family in courtCredit: Emil Salman
Nir Hasson

Policewoman Tsippi Yacovian, who was critically wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem last September, testified on Monday against the terrorist who stabbed her, Ayman Al-Kurd.

Yacovian, who has since been paralyzed from the waist down, launched a crowdfunding campaign this week to enable her family to buy an apartment that meets her physical needs and allow her to be released from hospital.

The attack took place next to the Herod’s Gate in the Old City. “I took the light rail to Damascus Gate,” she told the Jerusalem District Court. “I met the policeman Koby. We proceeded together toward the station on Sultan Suleiman Street,” she recalled. “Koby walked to my left. When we reached Herod’s Gate, I felt a blow, and I heard a shot. I didn’t see anything.”

Yacovian said that she didn’t understand what was going on during the stabbing. “I felt the blow from behind. When I fell, I heard my name from behind and shots,” she testified. “I saw police forces arriving. I saw Khaled,” she said, referring to another police officer. “He asked me if it was a shooting or a stabbing, and I said, ‘It’s a stabbing, call Magen David Adom.’ I don’t remember anything after that. The next thing, I woke up in Shaare Zedek [Hospital] after some operations.”

Hospital staff found that the knife had pierced her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed in the legs and partially paralyzed in her arms. She has since been wheelchair-bound. “I have no feeling in my legs, back, rib cage. My hands are weak,” she told Judge Yoram Noam. “I can’t do most usual things. That means that I will be dependent on others most of my life.”

As per her request, there was a screen between her and the defendant during her testimony in court. “I don’t remember him and don’t want to remember him,” Yacovian told Haaretz after the hearing. “I don’t want to go back.”

Yacovian’s family on Monday launched a crowdfunding campaign on Giveback to raise enough funds to buy an apartment that will meet her physical needs. For the last two months, Yacovian, a mother of two children aged 10 and 12, has not needed to remain in the hospital for medical care, but her family has no means to buy a properly equipped apartment.

The Defense Ministry has put 1.9 million shekels ($542,000) at the family’s disposal, but that amount is insufficient to buy an appropriate apartment. The ministry also offered to buy an alternate home for the Yacovians, but the offers do not meet her physical needs. Likewise, relatives say that the Defense Ministry grant has not changed in the last 15 years despite the sharp rise in housing prices.

Yacovian needs a large house that will allow her to maneuver her wheelchair and contain a room for two caregivers and a wheelchair-accessible kitchen in order to leave the hospital. Likewise, the house should be close to her parents, who help her with the children, and adjacent to the hospital. Relatives say they need about a million shekels to meet this need. They had raised 111,000 shekels by Tuesday.

“My husband hasn’t worked for 10 months. The children spent a long time with my parents until they returned to their routine, and I am here in the hospital,” Yacovian said. “The bureaucracy is burdensome, but our goal is to get out of here and return to our routine with the children.”

The Defense Ministry responded that it has intensively taken care of Yacovian with dedication since her injury, “involving the highest-ranking officials in the ministry and the Israel Police, out of a deep and uncompromising sense of obligation to help her” in any way possible. It added, “Ms. Yacovian is receiving medical treatment, full financial compensation and additional rights from the rehabilitation division, all in line with the division’s rules.”

Ministry officials noted that according to the law and Defense Ministry rules, only people with a level of disability, based on certain criteria, of over 100 percent and who are homeless are eligible for assistance with buying a home. They added that a person with this level of disability who owned a home prior to the injury is eligible only for adapting the home they were living in so that it serves the disabled person’s physical needs.

Despite the criteria, the officials said they had offered the Yacovians exceptional assistance equivalent to what someone without their own home would have received. The ministry also offered the family the alternative of buying a home already adapted, but the family rejected these offers.

“Regretfully, the family did not accept the offers and is trying to receive assistance that is greater than the already substantial sums,” one official remarked. “We stand by Ms. Yacovian and her family, and we will continue assisting her any way legally possible, and even beyond the letter of the law.”