West Bank Story

Over a month ago, a terror attack in the West Bank killed Rabbi Miki Mark, seriously injured his wife (now recuperating in hospital), and lightly injured his teenage son and daughter.

The attack, in which Palestinians terrorists fired over 20 bullets into the Marks’ car near Hebron, was an event of a kind that is all too common. But what made it unusual was that the actions of other Palestinians — particularly one whom Israeli media only refer to as “the man” or “J.” — prevented it from being even worse.

When he came upon the Marks’ overturned car, J. said,

“At first I thought it was an accident. I opened the door, which was difficult…. The girl was inside the car screaming, ‘They’re killing us,’ so I just kept telling her not to be afraid and that everything would be fine.”

He said his wife, who is a medical doctor, worked to staunch the bleeding from the teen’s abdominal wound while he called an ambulance….

After he managed to pry one of the doors open, the man said he pulled 14-year-old Tehila Mark from the wrecked car.

The man said he then removed 15-year-old Pedaya Mark from the car, and attempted to calm him.

“I took the boy and I hugged him. I gave him some water and applied iodine, and just kept telling him that everything was going to be fine,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me if it was an accident or a terror attack, it’s irrelevant. These are people, children, who need help, and if I can help, I will help them.”

Soon after, Dr. Ali Abu Sherech, also a Palestinian, stopped at the scene as well and gave care to the family. An Israeli military jeep and ambulances also came by, and the surviving Marks were taken to hospital in Jerusalem.

The incident was, of course, heavily covered in the Israeli media, and J., in particular, won wide appreciation for taking the initiative at a crucial moment.

But it turned out his troubles were just beginning.

While J. was helping the Marks, “dozens of vehicles passed by, threatened him and demanded that he stop treating Jews.” In other words, despite Israeli efforts to shield his identity, it became known in the Palestinian Authority who this “culprit” was.

Now it turns out that J., who had a public service job in the Palestinian Authority, has been fired from it. A relative of his says:

“[S]ince it became clear that he was the first to arrive at the scene of the attack and that he helped the victims, he and his family have been subjected to a smear campaign and received threats.

“He is not scared, but it bothers him that he and his family have become outcasts since the event. More than anything, it hurts him that he was fired from his job in the public sector of the Palestinian Authority. They told him that he was let go because of budget cuts, but he was the only one who was fired a few days after the incident.”

The West Bank-based, Fatah-run Palestinian Authority is, of course, considered the moderate branch of the Palestinians compared to Hamas-run Gaza. But in the PA, too, even a spontaneous, humanitarian act of salvaging a wounded, terrified woman and two children is seen — since they were Israeli — as treason.

Yochai Damari, head of the Mount Hebron Regional Council and like the Marks a “settler” (that is, an Israeli living in a place where many people think no Israelis should live), has hailed J.’s heroism and called on the Israeli authorities to enable him to work in Israel. In a Facebook post he called for a show of

gratitude toward people who behave like upstanding human beings. Specifically at a time like this, it is important to strengthen the positive forces and to send a clear message that normal and positive behavior like this will result in a normal and positive reward from us.

Simple words, but ones to which generations of diplomats and peace-process devotees would do well to take heed. Making “Israeli-Palestinian peace” an obsessive focus, while subjecting Israel to heavy pressures and criticism, has not changed one fact: the Palestinian side has not accepted Israel, instills hatred of it, and will be incapable of peace until that changes.

The story of “J.” illustrates that point as well as anything could, for those not hermetically sealed to the reality of the situation.

Postscript: Rabbi Miki Mark was buried at his community of Otniel, with thousands in attendance, on July 3. The terrorist who killed him was killed by Israeli forces on July 27.

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