Carmilla Figueras Jesalva with her elderly patient, Nitza Hefetz.


Ex-Dubai expat gave her savings to protect 95-year-old patient from Hamas gunman

A former Dubai expat who now works as a caregiver in Israel saved her 95-year-old patient’s life by offering her savings to a Hamas gunman, according to media reports.

The National reported that Carmilla Figueras Jesalva handed over $370 (Dh1,357) to the gunman to spare the life of her elderly patient, Nitza Hefetz.

The incident happened in Kibbutz Nirim on October 7 when Hamas gunmen ransacked their home. Jesalva hid Hefetz in their safe room, which was eventually found by a gunman who barged inside.

The Filipina caregiver said the gunman asked for money, so she pleaded with him to take 1,500 shekels ($370) to spare their life. This woke up the sleeping elderly woman, who had begun to get angry. Jesalva asked her to be quiet.

She said the gunman eventually left the room after finding nothing of value. Jesalva said that after the shocking encounter, she and her patient stayed in the room for more than nine hours, fearing that she might never see her family or her son again. The Filipina was supposed to go on a vacation to Manila that week and had saved that money for her trip.

When they finally emerged from their home, they saw their neighbourhood on fire. Some of Jesalva’s friends were killed. According to the Philippine Foreign Ministry, at least four Filipino workers were killed in the attacks.

Jesalva worked as a waitress in Dubai for two years before she moved to Israel in 2018. She and her elderly patient are now receiving trauma support at a care home in Jerusalem.

In social media posts, the family of her elderly patient described her as an “angel”. She was also awarded by a remittance company for her heroic efforts. ICA/Expat Media

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