Just a few years ago, Islam al-Bayed spent seven months in an Israeli prison for participating in a stone throwing attack on Israeli troops. Now, the 26-year-old Palestinian man has become an unlikely symbol of tolerance after providing assistance to an Israeli family whose car crashed following a deadly roadside shooting by terrorists last Friday.
Al-Bayed was the first person to arrive at the scene of last Friday’s terror attack on the Mark family and he was joined shortly afterwards by Ali abu Sharkh, an Arab doctor from the town of Dahriyah, south of Hebron.
The shooting attack happened at about 3pm on Friday afternoon. After the terrorists’ vehicle overtook the Mark family car, they opened fire on the family. Mark was killed while his wife Chava was seriously wounded and two of his children were hurt.
When Al-Bayed saw the overturned car of the family, he thought that it was an accident. He approached the car and saw the two children crying for help. “I tried to open the door of the car, but all the doors were locked,” he said. “I worked for about two minutes to open car doors. I initially calmed the daughter and comforted her in Hebrew. I told her she need not be afraid, I would help them.”
Dr. abu Sharkh was driving with his wife and brother towards Jerusalem for Friday prayers at al-Aqsa when they saw the Mark family’s vehicle flipped over on the side of the road.
“We immediately stopped. There was a young Palestinian man with his wife who were trying to help the wounded,” Dr. abu Sharkh said. “The first thing I saw was that Tehila was in a state of shock. I began to speak to her in English and she didn’t understand me. Then my brother began to speak to her in Hebrew and said to her ‘don’t be afraid, this is my brother, and he’s a doctor. He wants to help you.'”
“I examined the girl and saw that she was not seriously injured. Then I took care of the mother, who was very seriously wounded. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and an IDF jeep arrived. I asked the soldiers in English that they need to call an Israeli ambulance.”
The first Magen David Adom ambulance arrived a few minutes later. Dr. abu Sharkh explained to the paramedics that he’s a doctor, and that the wife still had a pulse but needed to be evacuated to a hospital immediately.
After he finished treating both the mother and their daughter, a Red Crescent paramedic approached him and told him that this was the result of a shooting attack, and wasn’t just another traffic accident.
“The paramedic told me that I should leave the area because there might be a hostile reaction to me being there,” abu Sharkh said.
“I carried out my duty,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a Palestinian or a settler. My job is to save people because they are people.”
In a message to the children of the Mark family, who lost their father in the attack, and whose mother is in critical condition, he said “I understand that the family is in great pain, but I want them to know that I did all I could to help them. I wish the family a speedy recovery and would like to offer my condolences on the death of the father”
While Al-Bayed describes himself as a victim of Israeli occupation, he said he steers clear of politics and is just a “normal guy” struggling to feed his family. He said he has received mixed reactions from residents in his refugee camp. Some say he did the right thing, while others think he shouldn’t have helped the settlers. But he said he has no regrets.
The condition of the mother improves
Meanwhile, Chava Mark’s condition has stabilized and is steadily improving. She is out of her medically induced coma and is now breathing on her own. She still cannot speak but responds when called. The children informed their injured mother of their father’s death.