The powerful image of two Palestinian men apparently protecting a female Israeli police officer has gained attention online and unleashed the imaginations of those expressing hope for a brighter future for the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Terrified Israeli policewoman protected by Palestinians while pelted by rocks from settlers. (Picture: Shaul Golan.) pic.twitter.com/yOQ0dW0F3Q— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky)August 2, 2015
TheBlaze tracked down one of the men in the photo, who said that he and the mayor of the Palestinian town of Qusra, south of Nablus, gave cover to the officer during a violent altercation between Israelis and Palestinians on Saturday.
Zakaria Sadah, a field coordinator with the group Rabbis for Human Rights and the man seen on the left in the photo, told TheBlaze Monday that the incident began when Israelis he described as “settlers” tried to stop Palestinians doing farming work in the area.
When tensions heated up, Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene. Eventually, Sadah said, one police officer pulled out a stun gun and pointed it toward a group of Palestinians as if about to use it.
At one point, Palestinians began throwing stones at the officer with the stun gun. With the Palestinians on one side of the field and the Israelis on the other, Sadah said the stun gun-holding cop’s colleague — the female officer in the photo — got caught on the Palestinian side of the standoff, which escalated into the stone-throwing by the Palestinians and Israeli soldiers firing tear gas, as seen in video posted on Facebook.
Sadah said the female officer was crying and was paralyzed by fear. A third police officer pointed his gun toward the Palestinians standing near the female officer in order to give her cover to run back toward him.
“I said, ‘Don’t shoot, I’ll protect her,” Sadah recalled. Sadah and another Palestinian man stood on each side of the woman, raising their hands, in the moment captured in time and widely shared online.
Sadah said he’s now being accused by some Palestinians of being a traitor.
“There are those who are writing against me in the Palestinian social media because we protected a policewoman, as if we’re ‘traitors.’ On the other hand, I see that settlers are attacking me. So you feel you’re under fire from both sides,” Sadah told TheBlaze.
“I will continue my way. I don’t care what people say or do. For me a person is a person. A life of a person is important,” he said. “At the same time I protected both the policewoman and Palestinian lives. Both are important to me and I will continue my peace activism.”
The depiction of the Palestinians and the Israeli law enforcement officer was all the more striking given that it occurred on Saturday when tensions were at a high following the death the day before of a Palestinian baby inside a home set on fire by suspected arsonists.
The 18-month-old was killed after Molotov cocktails were thrown into the home in the nearby village of Duma while he and his family slept. The Hebrew word for “revenge” and a Star of David were scrawled outside the home.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as terrorism.
TheBlaze was unable to reach an Israeli police spokesman for comment on Saturday's clash.