Photographer: AVISHAG SHARR-YASHUV
Title: “crack in everything that’s how the light gets in”
Location: West bank - Israel
Period: 11/2021 - 11/2021
Category: Solutions

In 1993, the Roth's family woke up one morning to find themselves members of a clan every Israeli lives in mortal dread of joining – the bereaved.
Less than a decade on and the Shehadehs of Jenin, Palestine, also followed suit.
Years later, Udi’s surviving brother, Yuval, and Saed – the late Dalal’s brother will cross paths under circumstances that will bind them together in life, as opposed to the grief shared by both their families.

For more than a decade now, Yuval Roth, along with dozens of volunteers at the foundation he had started, and which legendary singer-songwriter – the late Leonard Cohen, was a founding patron of, provides critical aid and assistance to countless ailing Palestinians on a daily basis.
Yuval and his volunteers turn up at Israeli security checkpoints where they collect any and all patients in need of care and transport them to various hospitals around Israel where they have access to medical care otherwise unavailable to them in Palestinian-ruled territories.

One of those patients is Saed’s son – Yamen Shehadeh.
Twelve-year-old Yamen was born with a rare genetic condition that already, at a week old, saw him rushed out of his hometown of Jenin and taken to Haifa’s Rambam Hospital, in the north of Israel.
He has since undergone hundreds of treatments and well over 10 operations that have achieved the impossible and helped the young boy walk – against all medical odds.



Reichan Crossing

Currently over 100 different checkpoints separate Israel and Palestinian Authority territories br More than 100 000 Palestinians pass through those daily br Some cross over for work purposes some to see their families and others for medical treatment br They must all hold a valid entry permit br Every Palestinian resident is entitled to apply for an entry permit into Israel for the purpose of receiving medical care at an Israeli hospital In their application the patient must present an appointment letter from the Israeli hospital whilst also arranging payment to the Palestinian Authority for medical coverage br The appointment is then assessed by a military coordinating and liaison officer and if need be is then also forwarded for further reviewing by a health service coordinator and or security officials br For countless Palestinians access to medical care in Israel is nothing short of life-saving seeing as how so many of these treatments and procedures are unavailable to them on the Palestinian health service br Such treatments include cardiac catheterisation organ transplants dialysis treatments radiation therapy and a range of surgical procedures br br A checkpoint located west of Jenin and dubbed Reichan Crossing in Israel br

Yamen

Yamen Shehadeh was born in Jenin 12 years ago br Immediately after he was born his parents realised something was not right br Yamen was born with a rare genetic condition known as Larsen Syndrome br A condition whose symptoms range from spinal and facial bone deformities dislocated hips knees and elbows abnormally loose joints and so on br Yamen was born presenting with some of the syndrome s most severe underlying conditions with the worst symptom afflicting his legs br Yamen was born with both his legs twisted br

Yuval with Yamen and Saed

Each time Yamen requires medical care he must go through an Israeli security checkpoint where Yuval Roth of The Road to Recovery foundation collects him and takes him to an Israeli hospital br For the past decade Roth with the aid of hundreds of volunteers has been collecting poorly Palestinian patients from various checkpoints and taking them to receive medical treatment at a range of Israeli hospitals across the country br Yuval is the surviving brother of Udi who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists br Following the loss of his brother Yuval joined the Bereaved Families Forum where he met a fellow survivor who later asked for his help with transporting his poorly brother from the security checkpoint to an Israeli hospital br After agreeing to help Yuval started receiving countless similar requests which made him realise that a foundation dedicated to helping these patients was in fact urgently needed br br Yuval escorting Yamen Shehadeh and his father Saed from the checkpoint to his car br

Saed and Yamen at Rambam Hospital

Your son s going to be bedridden for the rest of his life br Those were the words Saed Shehadeh heard from the doctors when he brought in his son Yamen for treatment br But already in the earliest days after he was born it became clear to Saed that he would have to be the one to fight tooth and nail for his boy br And so he flat out refused to accept the Palestinian doctors grim prognosis br He began making enquiries and reached out to a number of friends in Israel whom he d met back when he worked in a Tel Avivian restaurant br They told him about a paediatric specialist who was based in Haifa s Rambam Hospital br Saed knew it was down to him to get Yamen an appointment with this specialist who was pretty much the boy s only hope of ever getting out of bed br br Saed and Yamen at Rambam Hospital waiting to be shown into the room where Yamen will be spending the next few days br

Yamen waiting before going into the operating theatre.

For the past two decades Yazid Fallah has been working in the city of Haifa s Rambam Hospital as the Health Coordinator for Palestinian Authority-based patients br Yazid has been on Yamen s case from day one br The journey to treatment starts with the Israeli hospital referral that is essential towards securing medical coverage from the Palestinian Authority and if need be appealing to various Israeli organizations and foundations for donations in the event that the Palestinian Authority refuses to cover the treatments for poorly Palestinians in Israel br Yazid in hospital helping incoming patients from Jenin Jordan Egypt Abu Dhabi and Gaza br Yamen waiting to be examined and to have his legs marked before going into the operating theatre br

Yamen on the operating theatre table.

To date Yamen who was first operated on when he was just weeks old has had over 15 elaborate surgical procedures br Seeing has how Yamen is both young and does not speak Hebrew the language spoken by the majority of the surgical team Saed is allowed in the operating theatre where he can reassure and hold Yamen s hand until the general anaesthetic takes effect br Yamen on the operating theatre table br

The medical team in the surgery.

Dr Eidelman head of the Paediatric Orthopaedics Unit at Rambam Hospital br Eidelman is a worldly-renowned specialist in the field of limb lengthening and correcting deformities br He was the surgeon assigned to Yamen s case from day one and has been at the young boy s side since he was first admitted to hospital br To date Eidelman has operated on thousands of children both in Israel and around the world br In the course of this operation Eidelman will perform a controlled fracture of Yamen s leg and with the help of a magnetic device that will then be inserted into the boy s leg parts of the bone will be pushed further away from each other thereby allowing the body to commence the natural process of mending and healing the fracture by forming bone tissue ligaments muscles and nerves This form of physical manipulation essentially induces limb lengthening br The medical team in the surgery br

Yamen crying from pain

The catalogue of treatments and operations that Yamen must endure are all excruciatingly painful this on top of the extreme levels of pain that already come with his genetic condition br Each time Yamen is only allowed the company of one carer br The medical team being well aware of his circumstances do their best to embrace and support Yamen and to make his and his father s gruelling ordeal as easy and as manageable as possible br A physiotherapist trying to help Yamen get up from his chair in order to get him in a wheelchair that would help him leave the room br

Yamen in the In physiotherapy treatment

After every operation Yamen must undergo a strict physiotherapy regime geared towards strengthening his legs and helping him in his recovery br When they return to Jenin on top of his paternal duties Saed will also have to put his physiotherapist s hat on and make sure Yamen sticks to his daily exercise programme br

Professor Eidelman assessing Yamen’s walking

To quote Prof Eidelman Yamen is one of the most difficult cases I ve ever encountered br And yet after dozens of operations the boy has triumphed and is now able to stand on his own two feet and walk unassisted br Professor Eidelman assessing Yamen s walking in order to determine which of his legs he ll be operating on next br

Yamen outside the hospital

Yamen and his dad have arrived in hospital with a small overnight bag containing some clothes to last them several days br Yamen heading home from hospital with another bag packed to the brim with games he was given after every successful physiotherapy session in the days after his operation br Yamen waiting for his dad Saed outside the hospital whilst his father is inside collecting his ID card which he had to leave behind on their admission to the hospital br

Yemen moves from an Israeli car to a car from the Palestinian Authority on the way home

In COVID times entry to Israel and access to medical treatment in Israeli hospitals became infinitely more complicated br Each time they needed to cross the border with Yamen Saed had to present a negative COVID test br Now that he is double jabbed entry requirements are that much easier and yet they must still face a two-year wait before surgeries resume and Yamen can undergo the next procedure in the long exhaustive list of surgeries that still lie ahead br Saed helping Yamen out of the Israeli volunteer s car and into his friend s car who had come from Jenin to collect them from the Reichan Crossing br br br