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Filipina Caregiver’s Courage Touches Thousands Of Israelis

Filipina Caregiver’s Courage Touches Thousands Of Israelis
Photo from her Facebook page shows Camille Jesalva with 95-year-old Nitza Hefetz, whom she saved by offering her money to Hamas militants who entered their home in Nirrim, Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

“The morning of October 7th was a very dark hour for humanity. But amongst all the darkness, there is Camille’s story,” Emanuel Miller, a media analyst in Israel, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Camille Jesalva, 31, came to Israel from the Philippines five years ago. She takes care of Nitza Hefetz, a 95-year-old woman in Nirim, Israel.

Like their neighbors, the two woke up that morning to the sound of a heavy barrage of incoming rocket and mortar fire, and they sought cover in their bomb shelter.

Shortly before 8 a.m. Jesalva began to hear people talking outside. Having previously worked in Dubai, she realized that these were not Israeli soldiers conversing in Hebrew, but Palestinians speaking in Arabic.

She tried to close the bomb shelter window, but had no luck.

Moments later, she found herself face to face with Hamas. Jesalva was supposed to fly out from Israel two days later in order to visit her son, and had in her purse 1,500 shekels (about $370), which she planned to give to her family.

Without a second thought, she gave the terrorists her purse and said: “Take everything, just don’t take the flight ticket. She’s an old woman and doesn’t understand what’s happening. Take the money and go.”

“Unbelievably, that’s exactly what happened. The terrorists took the money and went away,” Miller said.

Jesalva then climbed into Nitza’s bed, hugging her to calm her down. She stayed at Nitza’s side for two and a half hours until the Israel Defense Forces arrived to save them.

The Filipina cancelled her flight after she promised not to leave Nitza and could not bring herself to go.

“The story has touched thousands of Israelis, who deeply appreciate the kindness and humanity of a person caught up in an awful situation that has little to do with them, yet decided to make the choice to act with true love,” Miller said, as he thanked Jesalva for protecting and not leaving Nitza.

Four Filipinos died during the attack while two are still unaccounted for. The two Filipinos are believed to be among the hostages of Hamas.

Support for Alacre

Meanwhile, the Israeli government assured support to the family of Negrense caregiver Loreta Alacre of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental, who was killed in the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

In his letter to the Alacre family, Israel Ambassador Ilan Fluss expressed his government’s deepest sympathy to the siblings of Loreta and said, “you are now joining a big Israeli family of victims of terror.”

“Joining this family entitles you with financial and other assistance, care of the government of Israel, in the same way they support the other bereaved Israeli families,” Fluss said.

He said their embassy in Manila will assist the Alacre family in claiming benefits from the Israel Social Security Institute.

The Israeli diplomat was also assisted by Rizza Moldes, officer in charge of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) - Western Visayas, in his meeting with the Alacre family.

Loreta had been working as a caregiver in Haifa and Tel Aviv for 15 years.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, OWWA and the Department of Migrant Workers each extended P50,000 in financial assistance to Alacre’s family, as disclosed by Katherine Joy Malagad Lamprea, chief of the protective services division of the DWSD Field Office 6. 

Speaker Martin Romualdez also gave P500,000.

The Department of Labor and Employment assured the dependents of Alacre of a livelihood package.

The OWWA shouldered the funeral expenses of Alacre, whose remains lie at her home in Sitio Camay-an, Cadiz City. 

Alacre’s burial is set on Nov. 5 in a public cemetery.

The OWWA also gave assurance of full scholarship grants to Alacre’s four nephews and nieces, whose education she financed while she was still alive, Cadiz City Mayor Salvador Escalante disclosed on Oct. 24.

The newly built Cadiz City Evacuation Center within Cadiz Viejo National High School in Barangay Cadiz Viejo is to be named the Loreta V. Alacre Evacuation Center, in honor of its alumna’s “heroism” for 19 years as an OFW – from Taiwan to Israel – from 2002 to 2023, Escalante said.

This act, according to the mayor, will serve as a lasting remembrance of her bravery and selflessness, ensuring that future generations will learn about her remarkable story.

After she is laid to rest, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday said that he will sit down with the Alacre family to ask “what do they need?” noting that many are coming out to help them.  – With an additional report from Gilbert Bayoran