Aged just 17, she watched as hermumwas knifed to death
THERE WERE two teenagers in the room. One watched in horror as the other murdered her mother.
Israeli security forces have caught the 16-year-old believed to have stabbed Dafna Meir to death on Sunday as 17-year-old Renana looked on.
The arrest provided some comfort to Israelis, but the mourning for Ms Meir intensified as people started to find out more about who she was.
In a desperate bid to protect her children, Ms Meir 38, had tried to fight off the knife-wielding teenager who entered her home in the West Bank settlement of Otniel.
She was a mother of four, and was fostering two other children, aged four and six, trying to give them the same chances in life that she had enjoyed.
She began life in a dysfunctional family, then moved to care, and then to an adopted family — as her widower Natan discussed in his eulogy.
“My Dafna is one in a million, who grew up in a house that wasn’t a home and still managed to rehabilitate,” he said. At different points during the funeral, Natan and 15-year-old son Akiva sobbed out the words of the kaddish prayer, and Renana apologised for not being able to help her when the attacker struck.
Ms Meir’s adoptive mother also spoke at the funeral — a large gathering which started in Otniel and then moved to Jerusalem for the burial. She told of how the 13-year-old Dafna she first met was so withdrawn that she recoiled from being kissed. But she went on not only to raise a family and foster, but also to a successful career. She was a gynaecology nurse at Soroka Medical Centre in Beersheva, where management issued a statement calling her a “professional and much-appreciated nurse who was loved by her colleagues and patients”.
She went to unusual lengths to communicate with patients. “She treated Jews and Arabs, and a few years ago decided that she was going to learn Arabic so that she could better speak to her Arab patients,” said Assaf Fassy, her neighbour.
An Orthodox Jew, Ms Meir saw her work as sacred, and would even say a prayer before giving out medicine. It ended: “Merit me to learn to identify, from health care, with the patient’s suffering and help every day and every hour as much as I can with the tools that you give me. Amen.”
Mr Fassy, who works as spokesman for the regional council of settlements in the South Hebron Hills, said: “Anyone who needed medical help could go to her, a child with a scrape or women with a problem.”
Dafna hadbeen learning Arabicsothat shecouldbetter communicate withArab patients
Renana Meir ( right), whosaw her mother’s murder, is comforted at the funeral