A debate is raging regarding the rock-throwing terror war waged by Palestinian Authority Arabs against the Jews of Judea and Samaria. Rocks don’t kill, say some apologists, and demand that the IDF continue its policy of refraining from shooting at rock-throwers.
Ahikam Siman-Tov, 23, of Ofra, is living proof of the devastation and endless suffering a single rock can cause, even if it does not kill.
In May 1990, the Siman-Tov family was making its way home from Jerusalem Day celebrations, when a hail of rocks struck the family car. One rock penetrated the window and hit baby Ahikam's head.
"It was a period during which you could not drive home without being hit [by rocks]," Edna Siman-Tov – Ahikam's mother – told the Tatzpit news agency. "My husband's car had been hit a week earlier. It was the height of the First Intifada. It was very dangerous to drive on the roads and everyone began rockproofing their vehicles.
"Ahikam began crying. There was no open wound, but his head began to swell. When we got home, we washed him and began removing the shards of glass from him." There were no free ambulances and that night, the Siman-Tov family drove Ahikam back to Jerusalem, to the hospital. On the way, he lost consciousness.
He suffered from internal bleeding. The doctors were not sure he would survive. He did, but he suffered permanent brain damage from the rock that crushed his skull. This later led to epilepsy attacks. At 16, he underwent surgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The epileptic seizures stopped, but Ahikam is still not a normally functioning young man.
"I can't read or write; I will never be able to serve in the army or take out a driver's license," he says sadly. "I will always depend on other people to help me, even for something as simple as sending a text message. On some days I think – why me?"
Edna still holds on to the rock. "Because of this thing, one third of my son's brain is missing; he limps, he suffers from back problems; he has no sensation in his right hand and his entire right side is weak. I take him to physiotherapy three times a week. When he was born, I had so many expectations for him. He had so much potential."
Despite everything, Ahikam served in the National Service for a year during which he gained confidence by working with horses. He continues to take care of horses, and also appears before police personnel, soldiers and students, to talk about his life.
"I tell groups of people that a rock that is thrown at you can influence your life," he says. "One has to treat a rock like a bullet from a gun. There is no difference between the two," he says.