Five American yeshiva students narrowly escaped a potentially fatal attack after wandering into a Palestinian controlled area of Hebron, in the West Bank, on Thursday.
The New York Times reports that the students were pelted with firebombs and stones after they got lost while driving to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, an important site for both Jews and Muslims. Fayez Abu Hamdiyeh, who is Palestinian, spotted the attack and took the students into his home. He then used one of their phones to call Israeli police.
The five students stayed inside Hamdiyeh’s home for approximately forty minutes before the Israeli authorities arrived. The students and the authorities described what Hamdiyeh did as a “humanitarian act.”
Hamdiyeh told Ynet news that he didn’t think his motives were particularly humanitarian. “That’s how everybody should behave,” he said. “We don’t have problems with the Israelis and we don’t want problems.”
According to the Times, one of the students “described getting out of the car as it was attacked by stone-throwers and found himself in a crowd of Palestinians who he said were shouting, ‘Jew, Jew, Jew.’”
“Then one man came up to me and told me to come with him, up the hill,” he said about Hamdiyeh’s rescue.
The Times provides some context as to why tensions are so high in the Hebron area:
Hebron has long been a focal point of tensions and violence as the only predominantly Palestinian town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank that has a Jewish settlement at its core. Under the terms of the peace accords of the 1990s it remains divided into parts controlled by either the Israeli military or the Palestinian Authority.
Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.