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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another near-lynch in Ramallah

A 28-year old Israeli who drove his secretary home to the Samarian town of Adam - about five minutes' drive from a Jerusalem checkpoint - was nearly lynched yesterday afternoon after his GPS system directed him into beautiful downtown Ramallah, the capital of the 'moderate' 'Palestinian Authority.' Amir Ochana was lucky - he was eventually rescued by two 'Israeli Arabs' from Jerusalem. A picture of his car appears below, followed by his story:

Ochana had just finished work in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, and wanted to give his secretary a ride home to the Adam settlement northeast of Jerusalem. He plugged in the coordinates for a return trip to Jerusalem into his GPS system and set of on his merry way.

The Bat Yam resident recounts the horror that followed. “I ended up at an army checkpoint…and they let me through even though I was wearing a kippah [skullcap indicative of a religious male Jew. CiJ] and had Israeli license plates… I ended up in the center of Ramallah, stuck in traffic and surrounded by Arabs,” he says. “I still didn’t realize where I was because I relied on my GPS.”

Soon, however, Ochana was spotted by the local Arab residents. “One Arab merchant came up to my car and started rapping on my window….He asked me if I was Jewish and I answered ‘yes.' I immediately knew that something was wrong.”

The Arab merchant then entered Ochana’s vehicle through the window, punched him in the testicles and stole his cellular phone. “He began to yell ‘a Jew, a Jew’ and other Arabs soon approached me. They stole my GPS and my other cellular phone,“ said Ochana.

This mugging was soon the least of Ochana’s problems, as a lynching almost ensued afterwards. “An entire mob approached me and began to throw rocks at my car….they broke both the front and back windows….I began to cry and ask ‘why me?’” Ochana recalled.


Just as Ochana began to fear the worst, however, help came from an unexpected source. “Two Arabs came out of nowhere…One of them pulled me out of the car and asked me if I was insane. They ran with me to the Qalandiya checkpoint while we were chased by rock-pelting Arabs the entire way, and handed me over to Israeli soldiers,” he recounted.

Mercifully, Ochana escaped the incident unscathed and says that he has learned his lesson. "The bottom line is that Jews should not end up in Ramallah. The road signs are also pretty unclear and I am not sure as to why the soldiers at roadblock I had passed let me through,” he said.

Ochana will also not soon forget his Arab saviors. “The first thing I did after reaching Qalandiya was hug them and thank them with tears in my eyes…two angels saved my life…”
As it happens, Mrs. Carl has a close relative in Adam, and I have driven there many times. Going into Adam is relatively simple but coming out is quite confusing and the road signs are a disaster. People who live in the area have told me that the Arabs knock down and vandalize road signs in Judea and Samaria on a regular basis - last spring we had to go to Elon Moreh and I refused to drive because I did not know where I was going. We hired a driver and he nearly ended up in Shchem (Nablus). Fortunately, the IDF turned our driver back at the checkpoint. But the fact that the road signs are a mess may not be entirely the IDF's - or the local authority's - fault.

Still for those of you who come here as tourists, rent cars, answer one of those attractive ads for a GPS, and think that you can go anywhere safely, please think about it again and make sure you know where you're going and how to get there before you get behind the wheel of a car.


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