ARIEL, Israel - One year ago, few people imagined that Ami Ortiz would one day be playing basketball or that his parents would be cheering him on.
For months, Ami's ability to survive, much less walk, run and play basketball was in doubt.
It was March of last year that his street - located in the community of Ariel - became a crime scene. A bomb exploded in a nearby apartment building. The blast was so strong, it shattered car windows three stories below.
"[There] was this big, huge explosion. The air was shaking, and I thought, 'Oh my God, what's happening here,'" local resident "Marina" said.
Purim Package Explodes
What happened was a bomb, disguised as a Purim holiday package, exploded when then 15-year-old Ami Ortiz opened it. "Marina," who helped clean the Ortiz home, came running and found young Ami.
"He was on the floor, full of blood. It was horrible," Marina said. "He called to Jesus. He said twice 'Jesus, Jesus.' And when I heard it, I said to myself 'okay, he's okay.'"
Ami was alive -- but just barely.
"To see the violence that was done to his body. How this bomb just mangled his body. It's very, very hard. And it's just a lot of pain, a lot of emotional pain to go through this with your child," said Ami's mother, Leah.
Miraculously, Ami not only survived but began to heal at an amazing rate.
His Wounds Healed Quickly
"His wounds healed so quickly, it was deemed a miracle by the doctors. We've heard the word miracle many, many, many times. He wasn't able to see. He sees perfectly. He sees 20/20," Leah said.
Ami's father, David, agrees.
"God is the God of the impossible. How He is able to turn darkness into light in an instant," David said.
Ami's story spread throughout Israel and the world. More than 4,000 cards and letters flooded into Ami and his family, even more e-mails. The Ortiz's say the worldwide support and prayers carried them through.
"Without them, we wouldn't have been able to make it. I mean we were devastated. If it weren't for [the] prayers of the people and the people's support. People don't understand how powerful prayer is. It's been keeping my sound mind. I can close my eyes at night and not fear," David said.
Facing the One-Year Anniversary
But what was it like when they faced the one-year anniversary of the Purim bombing?
"I think I was much more traumatized by Purim this year than he was," his mother said. "You'll see him. He went out and colored his hair orange for Purim. He wanted to go to school. He wanted to do all the parties at school," she said.
And what does Ami say about the bombing one year later? Amazingly, he carries no bitterness.
"I don't feel hate. I don't see a reason for it. I could say they're blinded by their hate. They think it's the right thing. You can't blame a blind person for running over you so I don't see [how I could blame them]. It's just not there. It wasn't there from the beginning. I don't even know how to explain it but it's just not there. No hate at all," Ami said.
Asked of he had forgiven them, Ami replied without hesitation, "Yeah, I have."
Yet, it's been a hard year of recovery.
"There Has to be Forgiveness"
"It was a shock. I didn't know what to do. Just to find out you're missing parts of your body. It's kind of hard," Ami said.
Ami's case has attracted the attention of the U.S. and Canadian governments, as well as human rights groups.
Majed El Shafie, founder of One Free World International, recently presented Israel's foreign ministry a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures he gathered in less than two weeks.
It calls for "The Christian community is behind us and behind the family all around the world. And even the Israeli community, even the Jewish people - the people in the street," the petition states.
El Shafie sees Ami's case as an attack on Israel's Messianic believers -- those Jews who believe in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Jewish Messiah. He's calling on Christians and Jews to speak up against the persecution.
"Whoever is watching this program today you need to know that you cannot remain silent. You need to do your part. You need to sign the petition. You need to contact the Israeli embassy in your country. You need to tell them, the message is very clear. We love Israel. We will always support the Jewish people but justice needs to take place in Ami's case," El Shafie said.
Case Still under Investigation
A police spokesman says the case is still under investigation, but he would not elaborate on possible progress. While Ami's parents seek justice, they have chosen to forgive those who tried to kill their son.
"Forgiveness has to be. It has to be. I'm convinced that Yeshua died for these people too. And even though they did what they did, God's love is great enough to forgive them," David said.
"Forgiveness was a necessity for us. And it is true that if we can't forgive others then - I mean the Lord has done so much for us and so much to forgive us - then if we don't forgive others, He won't forgive us. It doesn't matter what the situation is. It has to be. It's a command of the Lord. Because of the great price that He went through, that He paid in order to forgive us," Leah said.
They say Ami's story, which has been broadcast on Israel's national networks, has actually been used for good.
"It's been a year of God just bringing up in media who Yeshua is and could Jewish people really accept the Lord and still remain Jewish. So the Gospel has been preached," David said.
"I believe that's what the Lord meant to do through an extremely painful, painful situation is that [seeing] his [Ami's] face - people love him, in Israel, and they love him all over the world and it's through that that the Gospel is being preached," Leah said.
In the meantime, Ami, now 16, takes part in his youth group, plays basketball and is growing into a young man.
"This is a miracle. This is a miracle what happened that day. He's still alive," Marina said.
*Originally Published May 6, 2009