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Archive Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

Father and daughter Rami and Inbal Orpaz, like many other Israelis who don’t live in Jerusalem or the north of the country, wanted to enjoy the snow last week. They decided to drive up to Baal Hatzor in the Samarian hills in the Binyamin region but at some point along the way, they took a wrong turn and ended up in the Palestinian village of Dir Jarir.

“When we entered the village, it was quiet and didn’t seem suspicious,” Inbal told Channel 12 News. “We switched on the GPS and saw that we were just four minutes away from Baal Hatzor.”

But just moments later, the pair found themselves entirely surrounded by a huge mob, with Arabs lobbing rocks at them from all directions.

“At first, someone signaled to us to turn around,” Inbal said. “We still didn’t realize what was going on at that point. They also started yelling, ‘Jish,’ which means ‘army,’ we found out later. A young man held up the traffic to allow us to turn.”

“It all happened in the space of a minute,” Rami said. “I turned the car around, and found myself stuck in traffic, and then suddenly we were surrounded, with young men on all sides, and one of them tapped on his shoulder to signify that I was an army officer. At that moment, we saw dozens of them bending down to pick up rocks to throw at us. They were also banging on the car doors and trying to open them. Without thinking, I said that we had to get out of there right then or they would stone us and set the car on fire.

“Some of those rocks must have weighed about six or seven kilograms each,” he added. “They smashed through the car’s windows and landed inside. One rock smashed through my car window and landed just a few centimeters away from me. It was insane. When we reached the Ariel police station afterward, the police officer who checked over the car said he’d never seen anything like it. The number and size of the rocks – it was just insane. Another few seconds and it would have all been over. One rock in the head and we wouldn’t be here,” Rami said.

“I just want to stress that this wasn’t just an awful experience because of the attack itself, but also because of the way the police treated us afterward,” Inbal added. “It took them over two hours to find time to speak to us, and even then, the only thing that interested them was the fact that we had entered the police station with our dog, and apparently that’s not allowed according to their regulations. Finally, an officer told us that he would make an exception and allow the dog to stay with us. But no one asked us if we needed dry clothes or any emotional support. We went through an incredibly traumatic experience and it took them hours to see to us. Finally, the investigator arrived and took the rocks out of the car and he couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘How did you get out of there alive?’ he asked us.”

Approached for comment, a police spokesman told Channel 12: “This incident occurred at a time when police were already dealing with several dozen other incidents due to the snow storms that affected the entire Judea and Samaria region. We are aware of the complaints that the people concerned were obliged to wait until an investigator arrived to take their statements, and we regret this. The investigation into this incident is ongoing.”