Aged just 17, she watched as her­mumwas knifed to death

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

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

PHOTO: FLASH 90

Re­nana Meir ( right), who­saw her mother’s mur­der, is com­forted at the fu­neral

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