Lynching victim in east Jerusalem rescued by Arab residents

‘Without going into politics, I know that I owe you my life,’ delivery driver says.

Arabic language signs in east Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Arabic language signs in east Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
A delivery driver who took a wrong turn near Hebrew University in Jerusalem and ended up in a lynch situation in Issawiya on Sunday evening, recounted the harrowing minutes before he was rescued by Arab residents.
The driver, Nir Nachson, spoke about his near-death experience in an interview with Army Radio on Monday.
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“It’s hard for me to understand how this could happen inside Jerusalem – inside my home,” said Nachson.
Nachson was going towards Ma’aleh Adumim to deliver a package for his delivery company, Cheetah, when he attempted to make a shortcut near the Hadassah Har Hatzofim Hospital to avoid traffic.
Near Hebrew University, his GPS advised him to turn onto the main road in Issawiya. When he made the turn, an 11-year-old boy saw his car and started yelling “Al-Yahud,” and a crowd of young people suddenly materialized and surrounded his vehicle, Nachson said in the interview.
“Dozens of people were throwing blocks and stones and pounding on the car, from what I remember from all directions,” he said, adding that he hadn’t even heard of the neighborhood before his ordeal.
Using rocks and heavy objects, the mob broke through the windows of the car, opened the doors, and started beating him.
“I didn’t have a lot of options until one of the residents there – a really righteous person, which I prayed for – decided to stop them and told me to come with him,” said Nachson. “I have to say at that moment going with him didn’t seem like the best idea, but I didn’t have any other options. If I had been there two more minutes we wouldn’t be talking now.”
The man, a mukhtar, or village head, named Darwish Darwish, rescued Nachson along with the help of his sons, Channel 2 reported.
Darwish took Nachson to his house where he gave him water and tried to wash his face, which was covered with blood. A few minutes later Darwish told Nachson that he had to leave because it wasn’t safe for him to stay there, and brought a car next to the house, despite Nachson’s pleas for police or border police to accompany him out of the village.
Three other men promised to defend him against the crowd, which had already started burning his car, and drove him quickly to the entrance to the neighborhood where he was met by border police and taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, in light-to-moderate condition.
“We are against violence between peoples, not just on the Arab side,” Darwish told Channel 2 on Sunday evening. “As a nation we need to stand up and say ‘enough violence!’” Darwish visited Nachsom at his home in Ma’aleh Adumim on Monday afternoon, after he was released from the hospital.
“I’m sure if we hadn’t been there, someone else would have come to your rescue,” Darwish told him, extending an invitation to visit the village again, YNet reported.
Darwish said he hoped Nachsom would not hold a grudge, “because there are extremists in every place,” he said. He added that his neighborhood was neglected and that the children were denied basic rights and services.
“Without going into politics, I know that I owe you my life,” Nachsom replied. “If you hadn’t been there, I don’t know what would have happened.”
A similar incident happened last fall, when a car full of students from the center of the country got lost near Hebrew University and found themselves in a lynch situation. They were able to drive through a makeshift barrier the youth had erected and flee from the area.
Police spokesperson Shmuel Ben Ruby told the Post on Monday that the police were still investigating the incident and had not made any arrests.