A Palestinian man who saved the children of a West Bank rabbi in the aftermath of the deadly terror attack in which the father was killed, has been told he has to return to the West Bank, despite threats on his life there, Hadashot news reported Friday.
Rabbi Miki Mark was murdered in a July 1, 2016, shooting. His wife Chava was seriously injured, and their two teenage children were also hurt. The Palestinian rescuer and his wife, residents of the Hebron area, helped the surviving members of the Mark family escape their overturned vehicle and administered first aid until first responders arrived at the scene.
The Palestinian man, who has not been named, received a temporary visa to live and work in Israel after receiving death threats in his home town near the West Bank city of Hebron.
“They started calling me a traitor,” he told Hadashot news. “They started to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at my car. I was worried that when I left the house I would be burned alive.”
Following the threats, he turned to the Israeli Civil Administration, which is the interface between Israel and the West Bank. Israel decided to grant him a temporary permit to live in Israel, Hadashot reported.
But recently he was informed that his temporary residence permit will not be renewed, and he will have no option but to go back to live in the area governed by the Palestinian Authority.
“I just want to live like a person,” he said. “A week ago they told me, ‘You can go back to the West Bank now.’ I asked them how I could return to the West Bank when I am threatened there.”
He told Hadashot news that he was afraid he would be killed if he returned to the West Bank.
“If I go, it is as if I’m going to my death,” he said.
Despite his fears, he said he had no regrets for rescuing the children.
“I’m not sorry that I helped Jewish people,” he said. “I did it because of my heart. And I know that in the end, God will bless me.”
The Defense Ministry unit that oversees the permits, known as the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, confirmed to Hadashot that the man’s permit had not been renewed.
“His request was received by COGAT and he was given permits to remain for a long time,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Based on the information that was presented to the committee, some of which cannot be disclosed, and after discussions with the relevant security authorities, the committee decided not to renew his emergency permit to remain in Israel.”
The spokesman for COGAT added that the man had returned several times to visit the Palestinian Authority while he had been living in Israel.
Two years ago the Palestinian man described what happened at the scene of the terror attack.
After he managed to pry one of the doors open, the man said he pulled 14-year-old Tehila Mark from the wrecked car. He said his wife, who is a medical doctor, worked to staunch the bleeding from the teen’s abdominal wound while he called an ambulance.
“She was telling them in English, ‘Do not be afraid, we are here to help you,’” he recalled.
The man said he then removed 15-year-old Pedaya Mark from the car, and attempted to calm him.
“I took the boy and I hugged him. I gave him some water and applied iodine, and just kept telling him that everything was going to be fine,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me if it was an accident or a terror attack, it’s irrelevant. These are people, children, who need help, and if I can help, I will help them.
“The girl told me, ‘God sent an Arab to help us,’” he added.
Responding to a comment on Facebook that railed at the “murdering Arab scumbags,” Chava Mark’s sister, Yisca, was quick to point out that a Palestinian couple helped her family.
“I really need to tell you that the first ones at the scene were an Arab couple who rescued my family members, gave first aid and called the ambulance,” she wrote. “I think that we should use the term terrorists and not Arabs, because not all Arabs are terrorists, and I’m saying this from experience.”