The Damascus Gate (Sha'ar Shechem in Hebrew) of the Old City of Jerusalem has been the site of violent riots and terrorism in recent weeks as local Arabs lash out at their Jewish neighbors and visitors.
However, last week, during the final days of Ramadan, the high-tension area was the scene of a dramatic rescue that brought a Jewish “settler” and an Arab man together.
Israeli Jewish paramedic Haim Attias, from the town of Mitzpeh Yericho east of Jerusalem, was near the gate when he noticed an Arab man lying on the ground. He rushed to assist the man.
That man was local vender Haitham Azhouni. Azhouni was working near the gate when he was accidentally electrocuted.
When Attias reached Azhouni, he found that his heart had stopped. After a long attempt, Attias managed to resuscitate Azhouni, who was rushed to a local hospital.
The two men met again this week in a reunion filmed by Channel 10 news. Azhouni hugged Attias and thanked him. His wife and children thanked Attias as well.
Attias told Channel 10 that he not only lives in a “settlement” today, but was previously one of the “hilltop youth” – young Jews living in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) beyond the boundaries of established Israeli communities. He also lived for a time in the Peace House in Hevron.
Whatever his politics, he said, when he sees someone who needs help, “All I think is, how can I save this person’s life. And I do it as quickly as possible.”
“I’m sure that this is what G-d wants from me. It isn’t about peace. I’m sure that this is what G-d expects from me, that if someone needs help, you help him. And it doesn’t matter what his background is,” Attias concluded.