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Filipina caregiver’s courage touches thousands of Israelis

MANILA, Philippines — “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, a 95-year-old woman in Kibbutz Nirim.

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.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government assured support to the family of Negrense caregiver Loreta Alacre of Cadiz City, Negros Occidental,