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Damage lingers long after terror attacks

There are many photographs, but Inna Zussman lingers over one.

It shows a pretty young woman lying in the sun, eyes closed, face turned skyward, like a flower growing toward the light. Her arms are a perfect ivory against the black of her T-shirt, the green of the grass.

"I like this picture," Zussman says, looking at herself almost as if seeing a stranger. "It was taken a few weeks before the explosion."

July 31, 2002, Hebrew University. Zussman, completing her freshman year, had invited her mother to spend the day and tour the campus. The school's location, high atop Mount Scopus, provides a magnificent view of Jerusalem. It also made it one of the safest places in the city, or so everyone thought.

Zussman turned in one last assignment, then mother and daughter headed to the cafeteria for lunch. They had just finished eating when the bomb went off.

Nine people died. Dozens more were hurt, including 22-year-old Inna Zussman.

Her skin still looks perfect _ from a distance. Up close, the hands are purplish-pink, the arms covered by a flesh-colored pressure shirt to keep down the scars.

"I was very severely injured. How? It is a very long list. I had a screw inside my head. I had many fractures of my arms, and burns on my arms and chest. I had shrapnel and screws in my stomach, lung and left leg. I also had a spinal cord injury."

And that, she concludes, "is why I am in a wheelchair."

"He won't scream'

Since the latest Palestinian uprising began three years ago, 892 Israelis and at least 2,537 Palestinians have been killed. Each side accuses the other of murdering innocents though it is the Palestinian attacks, random and explosive, that usually generate the headlines.

Yet in a fast-moving world, even carnage like that at Hebrew University soon fades from the public eye. The dead are quickly buried, the damage quickly re%% WARNING %%paired _ and the injured largely forgotten, left to get on with their lives despite often devastating injuries.

"Many of them are young and hope to get married and then this happens," says Michal Erlich, a spokeswoman for Hadassah University Hospital Mount Scopus. For scores of "terror survivors," as most choose to be called, the hospital's rehabilitation wing is a place to start rebuilding body and mind.

For some it is harder than others. Danny Turgeman worked as an electrician until March 9, 2002. That night, he was in Jerusalem's Cafe Moment when a suicide bomber shoved his way in. Eleven people died; Turgeman regained consciousness to find bone sticking out of his elbow.

After an initially strong recovery, his condition worsened. He lost all sense of movement, and it was only after months at Mount Scopus that he learned to walk again.

Today his left arm hangs by his side, shriveled and useless. The therapy he gets three times a week is only to keep the arm from withering even more. He never again will be able to do electrical work, and he is in too much physical agony to learn any other job.

"He won't scream when I'm working on his arm _ he likes me too much _ but I know it's still too much pain," says therapist Viki Shemesh.

Like all those injured in "an act of hostility," Turgeman gets free medical care and other benefits from the government. This year alone, Israel's National Insurance Institute will pay 350-million shekels - about $81-million - to victims of terror attacks or their survivors.

But money cannot make up for dreams destroyed.

Now 29, Turgeman still lives with his mother. He wants to have a family of his own, but doubts any woman would marry him after seeing the ugly red scars on his neck and shoulder.

He hasn't been back to Cafe Moment; he knew too many people who died there. But he goes to other cafes, both in hopes of meeting someone and because he remains a fatalist.

"Judaism says that no matter where someone is, if it is Israel or the United States, if it is written in his story that he will be injured, he will be injured. I believe everybody has the ability to get through it."

Still, it is hard to fight off depression. He used to be a good basketball player. No more. "There are simple things I'm not able to do, like put on sports shoes. It's stupid things like that."

He glances at an attractive young translator. "I'm looking for somebody to help me get dressed," he says.

A bullet in the pacifier

Danny Turgeman and Arnaud Herenstein share the common bond of terror survivor. Except for that, their lives couldn't be more different.

At 29, Herenstein already had two little girls and a wife he adored. Of Yemeni descent, Yafit Herenstein was a striking woman with copper skin, jet black hair and clear green eyes.

The couple met while working at the border crossing between Israel and Jordan. Many Palestinians held jobs there too. "We had very good relations," Herenstein says. "The secret at work is to leave politics out of it."

But on the night of Aug. 10, 2002, he drove up to his house and found a Palestinian stranger standing outside. The man fired, hitting Herenstein several times; as he slumped down into the car, he felt a gun barrel pressed against his head.

Herenstein knew he would die.

A split second later, the barrel slipped and the bullet hit him in the leg. The gunman was startled by Yafit, who had emerged from the house with her husband's M-16.

The Palestinian grabbed the rifle; he shot her 20 times, killing her instantly. Then he fired at the bed where Yafit had tried to shield her two little girls with pillows. Shay, then 2, had a pacifier in her mouth. A bullet clipped it; amazingly, neither child was hurt.

Not so Herenstein. The first Israeli soldiers to arrive peered in the car, saw his blood-soaked clothes and assumed he was dead. Not until 25 minutes later did someone feel for a pulse, and Herenstein was airlifted to Jerusalem.

He spent 21 days in intensive care; three times his blood pressure dropped so low he was considered clinically dead. The only reason he survived, doctors later told him, was that he was in such good shape before.

Recovery has been slow and painful. Two of the bullets splintered his left arm, and he was too weak to shower, dress or eat by himself. His father had to hold a glass to his lips.

But with therapy four times a week, Herenstein gradually grew stronger. He can lift his arm as high as his mouth. He is diapering and bathing his daughters, now 3 and 1. He can even joke:

"I'm doing more than before the attack, when my condition was better."

Herenstein is not yet working, but he has a girlfriend, a woman who was a friend of Yavid's. He has moved closer to the hospital, which he still visits twice a week. But not for much longer. Taking care of his little girls, he says, is the best therapy he can get.

"It is easy to be stuck in the 10th of August and cry about how bad life is. But when you have two young daughters you cannot act like this. For them you have got to be strong. I have two flowers and my job every day is to put some water on them."

"Her legs fly out'

On its Internet site, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a link to "Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism" _ every incident since September 2000 in which an Israeli was killed.

It is such a long list you have to scroll through 164 items before you get to the Cafe Moment bombing, in which Danny Turgeman was hurt, and another 72 before you come to the shooting of Yavid Herenstein.

In between is July 31, 2002 _ the bombing at Hebrew University. The ministry identifies the nine dead and gives their ages and hometowns. Then it notes that "85 were injured, 14 of them seriously."

No names.

"People just forget about the wounded," says Inna Zussman. "They remember how many people were killed but they don't consider the wounded so much as victims."

Of the 14 who were badly hurt that day, Zussman was the most critical. She and her mother were near the table under which a Palestinian university employee had hidden a bomb, then detonated it by remote control at the height of the lunch hour.

Eugenia Zussman, seated behind a pillar, was partly shielded from the blast. Her wounds were relatively minor.

Her daughter, fully exposed, caught almost the full impact.

Now, after months of partial rehabilitation in Tel Aviv, she is back in Jerusalem and enrolled again at Hebrew University. But for a once athletic young woman, life is very different.

The university, where she is majoring in computer sciences, provided her with a wheelchair accessible apartment in one of the dormitories. It is roomy by Jerusalem standards and has enough space for a live-in aide, a young Filipino woman.

Three days a week, the aide pushes Zussman up the hill to Hadassah Mount Scopus.

There, occupational therapist Lubna Nashef puts a box of plastic Lego-like blocks on the floor near Zussman's wheelchair _ first on the right side, then on the left, and finally in front. The idea is for her to bend over in all directions to pick up the blocks.

Nashef is pleased with Zussman's progress. "It was too hard for her at first _ I had to put the box about a foot off the ground. But you need this forward movement to dress, to put pants on."

Next, more exercises and a private session with a psychologist. Then it is on to the Lokomat, a $170,000 version of a treadmill. It moves the legs and feet automatically, and in some cases can help patients with spinal cord injuries learn to walk again.

There are only 14 Lokomats in the world, and just one in the Middle East, here at Mount Scopus.

Zussman lies on a bed, legs limp as a rag doll's, while her aide and therapist Janet Berman maneuver her into a harness. Then they wheel her up a ramp and onto the Lokomat, where Berman hooks her to a pulley and cranks her into a standing position.

Zussman smiles. If only for a few moments, she is again at eye level with the world.

In getting Zussman to "walk" on the treadmill, the goal is to reduce the spasticity in her legs _ the involuntary jerks and kicks that can be violent enough to throw her out of the wheelchair and break a bone.

"Her legs fly out and she has no control over them," Berman says. "There's no control from the brain telling the legs how to work so the nerves fire sporadically when they want."

As the legs move back and forth on the Lokomat, the repetitive action tires out the nerves. That reduces the spastic jerks, at least temporarily.

Zussman still clings to the hope she will really walk again. Barring a miracle, she won't.

"Our goal with her is to teach her to be totally independent in a wheelchair," Berman says. "The fact she's going back to the university is very unusual _ a lot of people would just sit at home and do nothing with their lives. But she has the will, she has incredible determination."

By 12:30 p.m., Zussman is visibly exhausted. Berman helps her out of the harness and into the wheelchair.

Then the Filipino aide pushes her back down the hill, past the armed guards, through the electric security gate and into the dormitory.

Despite the paralysis, Zussman manages a relatively active life. Once a week she goes to Tel Aviv where she rides a hand-powered bike on the broad promenade along the Mediterranean. She visits the mall and theater with friends. Her parents, who live in Haifa, come down on weekends.

Yet a shadow of sadness often crosses her face.

"Sometimes I am not so happy," she says. Of those who survived the bombing, she is the only one in a wheelchair. She doesn't hate Palestinians but finds it hard to believe "that a few people can do so much damage."

There are things she does not want to talk about, including the boyfriend she had at the time of the attack. She was mildly dismayed by a story in an Israeli newspaper that quoted her as saying she wished to have a family.

"It is one wish, but they didn't have to emphasize that."

For now, satisfaction comes from simple things.

"I can dress by myself. I can shower by myself. I can move from my wheelchair to my bed, I can move into a car and out. There are many things I can do. I don't think about the future."

Susan Taylor Martin can be contacted at susansptimes.com

Arnaud Herenstein, shot by a Palestinian who killed his wife, says he often goes without a shirt because his daughter likes to smell him, "maybe because she lost her mother."

"I was very severely injured. How? It is a very long list. I had a screw inside my head. I had many fractures of my arms, and burns on my arms and chest. I had shrapnel and screws in my stomach, lung and left leg. I also had a spinal cord injury."

_ INNA ZUSSMAN, describing her injuries from a July 31, 2002, bomb attack at Hebrew University.

Above, Shay Herenstein, 3, clings to her father, Arnaud Herenstein, outside their home near the Dead Sea. Arnaud was shot eight times by a terrorist on Aug. 10, 2002. His wife, Yafit, was shot 20 times and died. Arnaud says he goes without his shirt now because Shay likes to smell him, "maybe because she lost her mother, maybe because she lost me for so long." Shoshana Gottlieb, right, has to use a wheelchair after being shot by a sniper on Feb. 27, 2001, while traveling from work in Jerusalem. Here her sister greets her before the start of Rosh Hashana. Below, Danny Turgeman, 29, was at the Cafe Moment in Jerusalem March 9, 2002, when it was attacked by a terror bomber. He undergoes therapy at Hadassah Mount Scopus three times a week.

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