Ordinary Israelis have raised nearly 1.4 million shekels (approximately $364,000) to renovate the home of a severely injured Israeli war hero, after the government refused to do so because he lives in a "settlement" in Samaria.
Yehuda Yitzhak HaYisraeli was left in a coma for over a year after being critically wounded while fighting in Gaza during 2014's Operation Protective Edge. HaYisraeli was injured in the same incident in which IDF officer Hadar Goldin's was captured by Hamas, and in which two other soldiers were killed. Goldin was later declared killed in action by the IDF, after evidence came to light confirming he had been killed during the abduction attempt.
The married father of two has been hospitalized ever since, but is soon to be discharged and is set to begin a long and painful rehabilitation process back at home in Ofra, in Samaria's Binyamin Region.
To accommodate for his severe disabilities, his home will require expensive renovations – but while the government usually covers such expenses for disabled veterans, this time it is refusing to do so, claiming that HaYisraeli is not illegible as he lives in a "settlement."
That callous decision left the family in dire straights. They didn't posses even a fraction of the approximately 600,000 shekels (approx. $156,000) required for the work, and didn't know where to turn.
So when the grassroots Zionist My Israel group set up an online fundraising campaign the HaYisraeli family were simply grateful for whatever amount would be raised.
Little did they realize that within just a few days – and well ahead of the end date for the campaign – generous Israeli donors would have donated more than double that amount. As of the publication of this article, over 1,390,000 shekels have been donated via the Israeli headstart online fundraising tool.
And the donors crossed the political spectrum: Opposition Leader Yitzhak Herzog, who heads the left-wing Zionist Union party donated 1,000 shekels to the campaign.
On Friday, the HaYisraeli family published a short, moving clip of Yehuda saying "thank you to the people of Israel!" for their incredible support:
But the family is less than impressed with the government's conduct over the issue, although on Sunday they confirmed they would await the correct official government permits before using the funds to commence construction on their home.