A Palestinian throws a stone at a Border Police vehicle during a protest near Ramallah.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A couple and their five-month-old baby emerged unscathed Sunday morning from a shower of rocks after the two vehicles in which they were driving were attacked by 15 masked Palestinians just outside Jerusalem.
A third vehicle was also damaged, and its driver escaped harm.
“Thank God we were saved. It was a miracle,” said Avi Gamss.
He and his wife, Sara, had left their home in the Tekoa settlement in two separate vehicles around 9 a.m., so they could drop one off at a Jerusalem garage to be fitted with special windows to protect against stones. Their daughter Batya was in a car seat in the front of the car with Sara.
“I was happy because it was my last journey in an unprotected car,” said Sara, who explained that she always feared that she would be attacked by Palestinians while driving.
As they neared the Palestinian village of Beit Sahur, near the checkpoint by Har Homa, Sara saw 15 masked Palestinians moving close to her car.
“I knew what was about to happen. I just hoped nothing would happen to my baby and that we would get out of there in one piece,” she said.
Within seconds of sighting the Palestinians, Sara said they were throwing rocks at her car.
Some smashed the front windshield, and one went through a half open window, flying over baby Batya’s head and landing in the back seat.
“I knew I had to drive and get out of there,” said Sara, who kept her foot on the gas pedal.
“A lot was going on, things were flying and smashing and I was screaming,” said Sara, recalling how, at one moment, she briefly lost control of the vehicle and hit a small concrete barrier on the side of the road.
Somehow, in spite the shock, she was able to turn the wheel to redirect the car and keep driving.
Avi, who was driving the car behind her, said he, too, understood immediately that he had to keep the car moving.
Everything happened very quickly, he explained, and it was only after they reached the safety of the checkpoint that they could even begin to digest what happened.
The first thing they did was check on Batya and remove the glass shards that covered her. The IDF estimated that the some 60 masked Palestinians were throwing rocks at the road.
An IDF commander was wounded lightly in the leg as he responded to the incident. The army dispersed the Palestinians with the use of tear gas.
Hours later speaking to The Jerusalem Post
, Avi said the experience makes him want to weigh in on the whole debate about whether rock throwing, should be considered at act of terrorism.
“At an attack of this kind was attempted murder. It was as if someone had come with an M16 [rifle],” he said.
The couple have three other young daughters who were not with them at the time.
Avi, who moved to Israel as child from Brooklyn, is a computer programmer. Sara, who is originally from Tekoa, is an art therapist.
The harrowing incident, Avi said, reminded him that it was important to be “thankful for what we have and to pray to God.”