Close call in Ramallah
Photo: Amir Ochana
Israeli nearly lynched in Ramallah
Twenty-eight-year old Israeli ends up in Ramallah after GPS system goes haywire. Driver rescued from stone-throwing mob by two east Jerusalem residents he calls ‘his guardian angels’
And you thought your GPS system was trouble? For 28-year-old Bat Yam resident Amir Ochana flawed GPS navigation nearly proved fatal. Instead of a planned return trip to Jerusalem, Ochana’s GPS system directed him towards the West Bank City of Ramallah.


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 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.”

Ochana's damaged vehicle (Photo: Amir Ochana)   


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 lmost 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.


My guardian angles

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…”


IDF officials commented on the incident noting that the Border Police is responsible for the crossing into Ramallah. The Border Police responded that the crossing is the IDF’s responsibility.


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