An Israeli civilian paralyzed in a terrorist attack more than two years ago returned home on Wednesday after an extensive rehabilitation process in Thailand.
Banya Peretz was seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting near Ariel in Samaria in May 2021. His best friend, Yehuda Guetta, 19, died from his wounds and another student, Amichai Hala, was lightly hurt in the attack in which the terrorist fired short-range at people standing at a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction.
An Israeli military court in January 2022 sentenced PA Arab and American citizen Muntasir Ahmed Ali Shalabi to two life sentences for the murder of Guetta. The court also ruled that Shalabi must pay Guetta’s family 1 million shekels ($323,000).
Peretz was paralyzed throughout his body, with only the ability to move his eyes. Following the innovative months-long treatment in Thailand, he can now move his arms and legs, Israel’s Channel 12 reported.
“It’s exciting to be back, we’re only in the middle of the process,” he said upon arrival in Israel where he was greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by leaders from the Samaria community.
Peretz returned to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with his family before embarking on the next stage of treatment.
The treatment was made possible thanks to crowdfunding, with many donors coming from the Samaria community. It included surgery to implant tiny electrodes that transmit signals from the brain to the various organs of the body. The electrodes are calibrated through a small handheld computer and as the body progresses through rehabilitation it is possible to increase the electric voltage so the body can move better.
Yossi Dagan, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, welcomed Peretz at the plane’s wheelchair ramp and along with Peretz’s father, Ofer, accompanied him to the reception hall where he was greeted by students from the Itamar Yeshiva where Peretz was studying at the time of the attack. The students were waving Israeli and Samaria flags.
“It’s exciting to return to Israel, to see my family and friends and draw strength for the process to continue. I’m only halfway there and I believe with all my heart that I will succeed,” Peretz said.
“We are excited that you are here with us, we adore you. The residents of Samaria and the people of Israel are waiting for you,” Dagan said. “Your faith and determination are an inspiration to all of us—you are a hero of Israel.”