Palestinians hold vigil for victims of taxi attack

The Jayada family was on the way to the supermarket to shop for the holiday meal when their car was attacked and burst into flames.

Palestinian vehicle damaged in attack 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
Palestinian vehicle damaged in attack 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
On a day when the Jayada family planned to be at home celebrating the end of Ramadan, they instead paced the hallways of Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem on Sunday, as their loved ones’ lives hung by a thread.
On Thursday at about 5:30 p.m., six members of the family were seriously wounded when their taxi, driven by a family member near the settlement of Bat Ayin south of Jerusalem, was hit by a Molotov cocktail in an attack that police suspect was perpetrated by Jewish extremists.
The car went up in flames and then flipped over. Two of the victims remain in intensive care, including Ayman Jayada, who is in a coma, Jamila, who is in serious condition, and Hassan, who is communicative but drowsy from the drugs used to ease the pain of the burns over most of his body.
Another brother, Haitham, shuttling between his family members in different wards trailed by two dozen worried relatives, described the shock when they received the phone call. The brothers, from a family of 10 children in Nahalin, speak Hebrew well and have never been jailed or had run-ins with Israeli authorities, according to Haitham Jayada, 30.
“It was the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen. I walked into Ayman’s room and walked out again because I didn’t realize it was him. You can’t recognize him because his face is burned away. We haven’t even let his four kids in to see him, because no child should see his father like that,” he said.
Half of the village of Nahalin is here atthe hospital, he said. There is no Id al-Fitr in Nahalin this year because they are all here, keeping a vigil by their family members’ sides. According to Haitham, previous attacks have targeted cars from the village.
Their village and the roads leading from it are in Area C – meaning they have remained under full Israeli control.
“We hold the Israeli security forces responsible for this attack, because we have no one else to turn to. We are totally under Israeli military control, so it is their job to protect us, and we blame them for not doing so,” he said.
He explained that only two roads can be used to leave the village and the frequent attacks on them are usually ignored by both the army and the media. A third roadway, previously in use, has been shut down by the IDF, apparently, to protect the settlement of Neveh Daniel.
“This isn’t the first time – the settlers nearby have thrown Molotov cocktails at us before, and rocks as well,” he said.
Nahalin is generally a quiet area of the West Bank. Many Palestinians from the area have permits to work in construction in Israel, and others work in nearby settlements. Palestinians in the local villages often go shopping at the large Rami Levy supermarket in the nearby Kfar Etzion settlement.
The family was on its way there late Thursday afternoon when the attack happened.
“We decided to go shopping to buy things before the Id, and we had about two hours until the end of the fast so it was a good time to go,” explained Hassan in a whisper from his bed, where his two arms hung in the air wrapped from shoulder to finger in bandages. What seemed like a once-handsome, tanned face was burned pink and white, and had the wet, shiny look typical of severe burns.
The children were brought along so they could help their parents pick out gifts for them.
“The kids were so happy and we were talking about what we would buy. Ayman kissed his son Muhammad on the head,” Hassan recalled.
“The taxi moved right, then left, and then all of sudden the whole car was full of fire.
All I could see was fire, everywhere,” he said, before a doctor, trying to get him to open and close his fingers and make sure he maintains feeling in them, chased away his visitors.
The son Muhammad, five, is still in the hospital in serious but stable condition. His younger sister, Iman, 4, has been released from the hospital.
The mood in the extended family has soured as many have forgone celebrating the three-day Id al-Fitr holiday.
One member said that Israel’s positive gesture of allowing tens of thousands of Palestinians to come to Jerusalem to pray at al-Aksa Mosque during Ramadan was all but erased by the attack. Others offered praise that several Israeli officials had condemned the attack and the US, for the first time, had called settler violence “terror.”
But words, they added, were not enough, and they were disappointed that the perpetrators had not been found.
“How is it that a government that could safely pull its troops out of Gaza can’t secure basic roads for people, for the good of everyone?” asked Moussa Shakarna, a relative who works as a contractor in Israel.
“In these areas where we live, there’s no security for us whatsoever,” he said, pointing to attacks on people coming or leaving other nearby villages, which include Battir, Wadi Fukin, Hussan and al- Jab’a. “This is at least the third time this happened, but only this time the results were so shocking. I don’t know how people can allow themselves to do a thing like this.”