Just a few years ago, Islam al-Bayed spent seven months in an Israeli prison for throwing stones at Israeli troops. Now, the 26-year-old Palestinian man has become an unlikely symbol of tolerance after rescuing an Israeli family whose car crashed following a deadly roadside shooting by Palestinian terrorists.
Last week’s shooting of Michael Mark, Hy”d, along with the fatal stabbing of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, Hy”d as she slept in her bed, have ratcheted up tensions in the Chevron region. Israel has responded by imposing a closure around the city and beefed up its troop presence in the volatile area.
But al-Bayed, a private security guard who lives in the al-Fawar refugee camp near Chevron, says his actions last Friday transcended politics.
“This was a very human moment. I didn’t think of the occupation or the conflict. I thought only of human beings, children who needed my help,” he said in an interview.
Al-Bayed said he was driving with his wife last Friday when they spotted an overturned Israeli car. He said the engine was still running and fuel was spilled all over the road. He had no idea there had been a shooting, and he was afraid the car was going to catch fire. “I heard kids’ voices inside the car, screaming for help in Hebrew. It was heartbreaking,” he said.
He said he forced open the door while trying to calm the children in Hebrew he learned working in Israel.
He said he pulled out a young girl first, and then a boy. His wife, a former nurse, gave them first aid to stop their bleeding. He said he then called the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service. Within minutes, he said Israeli and Palestinian rescue teams were on the scene treating the victims.
After the shooting, Mark’s son Pedaya gave a similar version of events. “Arabs succeeded in opening the door and getting us out of the car so that nothing would happen to us,” he told reporters.