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Amazing Stories

This is truly amazing: a Jewish family stumble into a hostile palestinian refugee camp and are saved from an angry mob by – wait for this – a terrorist!

“We were scared for our lives,” said Hannah Dickman, whose family accidentally drove into the Kalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem on Monday afternoon. Angry Palestinians surrounded the vehicle and youths threw rocks at it. Palestinians, including an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade member wanted by the IDF, rescued the Israeli family and helped them get to safety.

Beit Shemesh residents Shlomo and Hannah Dickman planned to visit friends in Vered Yericho, a settlement on the outskirts of Jericho. Traveling with them were their seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, and Aliza, a 17-year-old relative. At 4:30 p.m. on Monday, the family drove up to the A-Ram checkpoint north of Jerusalem; by mistake they continued to drive north, straight into the crowded refugee camp just south of Ramallah.

“All of a sudden, everything around me was written in Arabic,” Shlomo Dickman said, quoted in Yediot Aharonot. “I realized I had taken a wrong turn, but it was too late. Youths started to throw stones at our car. I drove off the main road and found myself in a dead-end street. There was no where to go.”

The Dickman family, who made Aliyah from the United States only a year ago, immediately realized their predicament and called the police. Meanwhile, two Palestinians came out of one of the houses. They introduced themselves as a doctor and a teacher, and offered the family members a bottle of water and refuge in their home.

“They seemed very friendly, but their yard was enclosed by heavy metal gates, and we were afraid to be behind them. We didn’t have a chance to say ‘Shma Yisrael’ (central Jewish prayer, also recited when one fears death is approaching), because we didn’t think we would be killed right away, but we were frightened more later on,” Hannah said.

A Palestinian identified as Mahmoud, who is wanted by the IDF for his membership in the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terror group, said that when he saw the youths throwing stones at the car, he went to see if he could help the trapped family, Yediot Aharonot reported. “I tried to protect them. We weren’t armed, but residents of the camp know us, and follow our instructions. I ordered them away, and then called my friends.”

One of the Palestinians who arrived at the scene was Fatah Tanzim leader Jamal Abu Lele. “The family didn’t want to get out of the car or talk to us when they first saw us,” Abu Lele said. “After a while we managed to start talking to the father, who was on the phone with Israeli police. We told him not to be afraid. We told him we would take responsibility over his family until they were out of the area,” he added.

“I was afraid,” Shlomo Dickman admitted. “I realized that I was responsible for my fate, and for the fate of my family. Some of the Arabs seemed very hostile, while others appeared to be very friendly.”

Abu Lele sent some of his men to the nearby IDF roadblock to call on the soldiers to rescue the family. The soldiers at first refused to believe the report, and feared a possible ambush. Only after an hour, they entered the camp to escort the family out.

“I need to find them in order to say thank you,” Shlomo Dickman said of his Palestinian rescuers afterwards. “There would have been a very bad ending if there hadn’t been good people there that really wanted to help.”

Abu Lele said his efforts were just a humanitarian gesture and typical of Arab hospitality traditions. “We support the continuation of the Intifada,” he said, “but, this family’s mistake is not connected. We are talking about innocent civilians and it is forbidden to harm them.”


Israel Police officials said they would award citations of honor to the two Palestinians who helped rescue the Israeli family and reported their getting lost to the Israeli security forces.

In October 2000, two Israeli reserves soldiers – Vadim Norzitch and Yosef Abrahami – lost their way in the Ramallah area and were brutally murdered in a lynch by an angry mob that included Palestinian policemen.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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