Fearing revenge attacks on the school involved in Thursday’s bus accident that killed at least six children, the Jerusalem Municipality has allowed the Palestinian Authority to send in its own police to maintain calm among parents, a rare move.
Family members gathered at the Noor al-Houda school in the Shuafat refugee camp throughout the day as information about the accident trickled in. The children’s bus overturned and caught fire after being hit by a truck near the Adam junction north of Jerusalem.
A Palestinian member of parliament, Jihad Abu Znaid, joined parents at the school to offer support and comfort. She told the Walla news website that the atmosphere was extremely tense, and that she was functioning as a liaison between the Palestinian minister of health and the families. “The situation is very difficult, and I am under a great deal of stress, as though they were my kids,” she said.
A relative of one of the children told Walla that the mood in Shuafat and neighboring Anata was somber. “We are all one family,” said Muhammad Abu Raviya, whose brother’s granddaughter was rushed to a hospital in Ramallah and subsequently released. “She cried a lot,” he said, “and she wouldn’t calm down until she was reunited with her parents.”
Abu Raviya said he was now waiting to hear information regarding the whereabouts of his neighbor’s son, who was also one of the children on the overturned bus. He told Walla, “We have checked several hospitals and he’s not at any of them. We are waiting on one more hospital to get back to us.”
Speaking in reaction to reports that the bus was dangerously overcrowded, another relative at the school told Maariv, “People here are afraid that the parents will burn down the building because [the school] stuffed too many people into a single bus.”