Israeli Carpenter is 'CNN Hero'

An Israeli named as a CNN "hero" helps PA Arab medical patients as a way of healing his grief over his brother's murder by Hamas terrorists.

Chana Ya'ar , | updated: 16:52

The Yatir checkpoint
The Yatir checkpoint
Israel news photo: Hana Levi Julian

An Israeli carpenter and professional juggler named by the U.S.-based CNN News network as one of its "heroes" decided several years ago to transform grief into action after his brother was murdered in a 1993 terror attack by Hamas.

But 55-year-old Yuval Roth did not join activist marches against terrorism, instead channeling his pain into trying to humanize the face of Israel, which is invariably demonized in the Palestinian media. He decided to create a volunteer organization to transport Palestinian Authority Arabs to medical facilities on the Israeli side of the checkpoints. The vast sums of money given to the PA since its founding, seem not to have been diverted in part to achieving state-of-the-art medical care, as there are still treatments that are not available there.

Since 2006, Roth's group, Derech Hachlama (Road to Recovery) has grown to some 200 volunteers who drive the patients to and from treatment in Israeli facilities five days a week.

The Pardes Hanna resident's efforts have saved the Palestinian Authority Arabs thousands of dollars, since most would have had to take taxis, had Roth's group not helped them. They might not have been able to afford to come for the treatment, as it seems that they could not get the PA to cover the costs. Taxis can cost up to $90 each way, as any Jewish Israeli who also often must use the services from outlying areas to hospitals knows.

Roth, who is a member of the organization "Parents Circle - Families Forum," told CNN, "This activity gives me an essence for life."

The  volunteer leader said his group drove an estimated 60,000 kilometers (nearly 40,000 miles) last year alone. He believes the program helps both Israelis and PA Arabs to learn from, and respect each other.

"It makes our life and their life a lot easier. I think Palestinian families trust me also because I'm coming as one of them. I feel like they are my family or my friends."