Nov 142013
 
 

Netta Zaken 

On September 9, 2003, Netta, then a 17-year-
old high school senior, went for a late evening 
walk with a good friend near their homes in 
Jerusalem. As they walked along the street, 
they passed a café where many people were 
relaxing, talking, joking, and having an 
enjoyable evening. As Netta and her friend 
neared the sidewalk entrance to the café – 
Café Hillel – they saw the security guard grappling with someone he 
was trying to prevent from entering the café. There was a huge 
explosion and shrapnel flew everywhere. 

 

Netta suffered a crushed jaw in the attack, and the main vein of her leg was 
punctured by shrapnel. Her right hand was crushed, she was hit by shrapnel 
throughout her body, and suffered nerve damage in her back and intestinal 
area. Her friend suffered minor abrasions. 

 

Since the attack, Netta has developed serious difficulties with digestion, 
including strong pains, and needs special food she can digest more easily. 
She cannot open her mouth wide enough to ingest or chew solid food, and 
eats only purees or liquefied food. She has developed celiac disease as a 
result of her physical injuries, and now can’t eat any grains. She is also 
allergic to milk and nuts as a result of her injuries. She can't even look at a 
piece of cooked meat, or even meat soup, because the memories of the 
burnt flesh from the attack come flooding back and cause her to be sick. 

 

Netta clearly remembers that night – the sight of the security guard trying 
to stop the terrorist, the blast of the explosion, the blood everywhere 
afterwards, the smell of burnt metal and burnt flesh, the screams, the 
sirens, and most of all the pain. 

 

In addition, the physical trauma of the attack led to a disruption in Netta's 
nervous, digestive and anatomic systems. She is now allergic to almost all 
conventional medication, including general anesthesia, all antibiotics and 
even some antihistamines. 

 

Over the past nine and a half years, Netta has undergone numerous 
operations to repair and reconstruct her lower jaw. She has undergone 
eight bone transplants, and some of her lower teeth were removed, and will 
eventually need to be replaced. These operations have been tremendously 
painful physically and emotionally, and Netta will still need more operations 
to complete the work. 

 

Because of her allergies to medications and anesthesia, her surgery needs to 
be done under very specific local anesthetic, and when this is applied, it 
often "takes" in locations other than where it is applied. 


 

Netta is under regular psychological therapy. But her physical pain and 
discomfort can only be helped by homeopathic and other alternative 
treatments, including biofeedback therapy to strengthen the muscles in her 
abdominal and intestinal areas, since she is allergic to conventional 
medications. These treatments are very expensive and are not covered by 
the public health plans in Israel – yet they are the only thing that can help 
her. 

 

Netta’s parents sacrificed everything they had to cover the costs of Netta's 
treatments, even selling their home to obtain the money for it. For two 
years, Netta, her parents, and her two younger brothers lived in the home of 
her elderly grandmother. They then rented the tiny basement-half of an 
apartment nearby, and have turned it into a home. The section that they 
rented has two small bedrooms and a very tight living room-dining room 
combination. The kitchen is more of an alcove tucked in behind a wall. 

 

For the past two years, Netta has been studying Special Education at 
Israel’s Open University, in a program that allows her to study at 
home and between her many medical and psychological 
appointments she attends the university once a week to report to 
her academic supervisor. 

 

The family needs assistance in paying for Netta's daily medical needs. The 
National Insurance Institute refuses to recognize most of Netta's treatments 
since they are "alternative medicine" and not conventional treatment. Netta 
is forced to pay out of her own funds every month for these treatments, 
including special medications that bypass her allergies. 

 

 

 

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