Happy ending for Palestinian who was penalized for rescuing wounded Jews

Right from Wrong: Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark was killed in front of two of his kids. An unlikely individual rescued the youth.

By
July 19, 2019 05:08
Rte. 60 closed to traffic as settlers march in memory of Rabbi Michael Mark

Rte. 60 closed to traffic as settlers march in memory of Rabbi Michael Mark. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Three years ago this month, thousands of Israelis attended the funeral of Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, director-general of the Otniel Yeshiva, who was killed in a drive-by Palestinian terrorist attack.

The father of 10 children was shot while driving with his wife and two of his kids on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills. He was struck by a barrage of bullets and lost control of the car, causing it to overturn.

As Mark, 48, bled to death in front of his injured 14-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son – whose mother, Hava, was rendered unconscious in critical condition – a Palestinian Authority civil servant who happened by the scene of what he thought was a car accident rushed to assist the family.

For his swift and humane action, the young man from Hebron was thanked profusely by the Mark family. He and a Palestinian doctor who arrived a few minutes later to help were also granted an award for “outstanding citizenship and courage” by the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center during a conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem

In an interview at the time with Israel’s defunct Channel 2, “A” – whose name has been withheld since then – recounted seeing the Marks’ overturned vehicle and stopping on the side of the road.

“I tried to open the door, but the car was completely locked,” he said. “I saw two children inside screaming and asking me to help them. I put out my hand and for two minutes, I tried to open the door to get to the children who were suffocating in the car. I think that if they stayed there a little while longer, those children would have suffocated in the car. Out of the shock she felt, the young daughter spontaneously grabbed me and jumped onto me. I immediately put my hand on her head and spoke to her in Hebrew, of course. I told her, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I will help you. Don’t worry.’ I did what I did out of humanity. These are children. There were children inside. There were people inside. I didn’t hesitate at all.”

In spite of Israeli efforts to assist, “A” remains anonymous for his own protection. The powers that be in Ramallah knew exactly who he was, and promptly penalized him for rescuing wounded Jews. As Israelis lauded him – not only for being a Good Samaritan, but for rekindling a ray of hope in peace – the PA promptly dismissed him from his job.

Mark’s July 1, 2016, murder took place during a severe spike in Palestinian terrorism characterized by stabbings, car rammings and shootings. In fact, a mere day earlier, 13-year-old Hallel Yaffe Ariel was slaughtered by a knife-wielding Palestinian in her Kiryat Arba bedroom.

THE PA’S response to Ariel’s murder was to fund a mourning tent for and pay tribute to the terrorist perpetrator who had been killed by a volunteer rescue team that did not make it in time to save the young girl’s life.

It came as no surprise to anyone, then, that while “A” was tending to the Mark family, Palestinian drivers shouted at him to stop helping Jews, and threatened his life.

In a post on Facebook shortly thereafter, Mount Hebron Regional Council head Yochai Damari said that he had met with “A,” who asked for help in obtaining an Israeli work permit, now that he had become an outcast in the PA.

Damari claimed that after the meeting, he conveyed the request to then-Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman.

“In situations like these, it is our duty as a Jewish nation to show gratitude toward people who behave like upstanding human beings,” Damari wrote. “Specifically at a time like this, it is important to strengthen the positive forces [in the PA] and to send a clear message that normal and positive behavior like this will result in a normal and positive reward from us.”

Indeed.

It is not clear how Liberman – who resigned from his post last November, toppled the government, spurred the April 17 Knesset elections and blocked the formation of a coalition, thus forcing a new round of votes in September – reacted to Damari’s appeal. But one thing is certain, as Channel 12’s Ohad Hemo revealed in a heart-wrenching news feature last week: “A” fell through the cracks, and his life took a terrible turn for the worse.

According to Hemo’s report, the persecuted Palestinian hero was given permission by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to reside in Israel temporarily, but was never granted a work permit. Instead, he was treated to repeated death threats in the PA, where he was and still is viewed as a traitor to the cause of annihilating the Jewish state and its inhabitants.

With no means of supporting his wife and baby financially, or of protecting them from the wrath of their hostile neighbors, “A” has been camping out for the past two-and-a-half years in a tent on Tel Aviv’s Manta Ray Beach – with no money other than the pittance he earns from doing odd day jobs when he’s able to find them.

“A” told Hemo about the hell his family has endured as a result of his having come to the Mark family’s aid: “Every time someone [in the PA] considered hiring me, he asked around the village and was told that I’m a collaborator [with Israel], because I helped [Jewish] people. They boycott you [to the point that they] don’t even say hello. In one case, someone came to my house, shot at me and threw a Molotov cocktail. The Palestinian Authority broke into my home and scared my family. If I return, I know that I will be executed.”

HEMO REPORTED that Shurat Hadin – which has been suing Iran on behalf of American and Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorist groups funded by the regime in Tehran – is petitioning the Interior Ministry to grant “A” and his family permanent residency status in Israel and all the rights this entails, including the ability to work.

Following the broadcast, Israelis across the country contacted Hemo to offer help and donate cash. Tens of thousands of shekels, as well as clothes and toys poured in, both from anonymous sources and better-known figures, such as actress Gila Almagor.

On Wednesday evening, Hemo aired a follow-up piece on “A,” this one with a happy ending. Astonishingly, during the week since his first feature was aired, the problem was virtually solved.

“A” is now reunited with his wife and 18-month-old son in a clean and equipped apartment, thanks in large part to Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, and the permanent-residency process is actually underway.

“When I saw the broadcast [last Wednesday], I wept and was ashamed,” Dagan told “A.”

Almagor called “A” a member of the “righteous among the nations.”

Hemo noted that the story has brought together strange bedfellows from opposite sides of the political spectrum, referring to the leftist Almagor and right-wing Dagan, who not only united in their belief that helping “A” is a “moral imperative,” but also engaged in a friendly chat about bridging gaps.
Of course, neither mentioned the fact that while “A” caused Israelis of all stripes to rally to his defense – and to scream “mea culpa” for what he has been going through – Palestinians are still out for his blood.

In a phony ploy to portray itself as an innocent bystander, the PA released a statement to Channel 12 insisting that “A” is welcome to return home any time he so chooses – probably to make him disappear, that is. Something that would never be covered in the PA-controlled media. If it were to be reported in Ramallah, the journalist responsible would suffer a similar fate to that of “A.”

The Hebrew press, in contrast, can and regularly does call out the Israeli government for crimes and misdemeanors – some real, others exaggerated or conjured up for political reasons – with utter impunity. And rightly so, regardless of how enraging much of its reportage tends to be.

It therefore does not require bravery on Hemo’s part to launch a campaign on behalf of “A” or other Palestinians, or to blame Israel for their plight. This is why, unlike “A,” Hemo does not deserve to be touted as a hero.

But he can and should be credited with highlighting the predicament of a man whose heroism was forgotten. It is a rare blessing when the power of the press is used to promote genuine justice. Kudos to Channel 12.


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