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Israeli extends helping hand to sick Palestinians

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Jerusalem (CNN) — Aya Abu Mouwais, a 3-year-old who lives in the West Bank, can barely walk or talk because of a failing kidney and liver. For much of her life, the Palestinian child has needed dialysis to survive.

Thankfully, an Israeli man has been able to help her get the treatment she so desperately requires.

More than 500 times in the past two years, Yuval Roth and his volunteers have driven Aya and her mother roundtrip from a checkpoint near the West Bank border to Rambam Medical Center, which is an hour away in Haifa, Israel.

“What Yuval has done, no one else has done,” said Aya’s mother, Suhair. “He is day by day helping us to get her to the hospital. I’m not allowed to drive an Israeli car, so if not for Yuval, we wouldn’t be able to transport her. I thank him.”

Leaving the West Bank is the only way Aya’s family can get dialysis. For one thing, medical facilities are limited in the territory.

“In the Palestinian Authority, it’s very expensive to get health care, and most of the people cannot afford it,” Roth said.

It’s also expensive to make the trip to Israeli hospitals. Although the Palestinian Authority allows sick children and adults to leave the West Bank for treatment, Palestinians are not allowed to drive past the checkpoints. To get to Israeli hospitals, they’d have to take a taxi, which would cost at least $90 each way.

Fortunately, there is Roth and his organization, Derech Hachlama (“On the Road to Recovery”). Since 2006, Roth and his team of volunteers have been giving Palestinians a lifeline.

“The volunteers are driving at least five days a week,” said Roth, a 55-year-old carpenter and professional juggler from Pardes Hanna, Israel. “Some (drive) in the morning to drop off patients, and others come in the evening to take them back. That makes the whole thing easy, since they can still go to work and don’t have to spend the whole day.”

Read the full story on CNN