TEL AVIV – A Palestinian man who received death threats because he saved the children of a West Bank rabbi after the latter had been killed in a terror attack was awarded Israeli residency Tuesday.
In July 2016, the man happened on the scene of a shooting attack in which Rabbi Miki Mark was killed. His wife, Chava, was seriously injured and fell unconscious. Rabbi Mark bled to death in front of his 14-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, who were also injured. The Palestinian and his own wife helped the wife and children out of the overturned car and administered first aid until an ambulance arrived at the scene.
“I saw two children inside screaming and asking me to help them. I put out my hand and for two minutes, I tried to open the door to get to the children who were suffocating in the car. I think that if they stayed there a little while longer, those children would have suffocated in the car,” the Palestinian rescuer said at the time.
“Out of the shock she felt, the young daughter spontaneously grabbed me and jumped onto me. I immediately put my hand on her head and spoke to her in Hebrew, of course. I told her, ‘Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I will help you. Don’t worry.’ I did what I did out of humanity. These are children. There were children inside. There were people inside. I didn’t hesitate at all.”
“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.
“The girl told me, ‘God sent an Arab to help us,’” he added.
He and a Palestinian doctor who later helped at the scene were granted an award for “outstanding citizenship and courage” by the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian officials penalized the man, who worked as a Palestinian Authority civil servant, for rescuing wounded Jews. “As Israelis lauded him – not only for being a Good Samaritan, but for rekindling a ray of hope in peace – the PA promptly dismissed him from his job,” an article in the paper said at the time.
Due to death threats he received in his hometown near the West Bank city of Hebron, the Palestinian was awarded a temporary visa to live and work in Israel. However, since the visa expired a year ago, the man has been unable to work and has been living in Israel illegally, too afraid to go home.
Israelis, including settler leaders, launched a campaign to procure him permanent residency.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri awarded the man and his wife and son residency that will allow them to work and receive healthcare and other social benefits in Israel.
Deri told the man he would able to start a new life in Israel for his “selfless and noble” act.
West Bank settler leader Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, said it was the “moral and righteous thing to do for a man who risked his life to save Jews.”