"My life and the lives of my son and his friend came within a whisker of being over," said Taufik Jamal, the Arab-Israeli whose vehicle was stoned on Yom Kippur after he entered a Jewish neighborhood in Akko.
The incident sparked fierce clashes between Jewish and Arab residents in the northern city.
"We have relatives who live in the eastern housing projects, and next week they will be celebrating a wedding," Jamal said Thursday evening, nearly 24 hours after the incident. "It is customary in our community to prepare cakes for such celebrations, so my daughter went to their house to help out.
Jamal phoned his daughter at around 11 pm to tell her he was coming to pick her up. "We live far away, and I didn’t want her to walk alone after dark," he recalled. "I knew it was Yom Kippur; we have been living amongst Jews for many years, so I thought I'd drive slowly without turning on the radio, despite what (the Jews) claimed later."
Police said Jamal broke through a checkpoint.
Jamal, who was accompanied by his 18-year-old son and his 20-year-old friend, said he noticed a group of young Jews gathering as he parked his car near the relatives' home.
"I asked my son to take the baking dishes out of the car and proceeded to walk (toward the house) when (the Jews) suddenly began hurling stones in our direction. The stones hit my son and the car. My son was lying down because was hit in the face, back and chest; I managed to grab him and pull him into the building," he recounted.
The son's friend was also injured in the chest. The three then went up to the seventh floor of the building and called police and the Magen David Adom emergency services.
Jamal said officers arrived a few minutes later. "Throughout the entire time, despite police presence, the youngsters continued to throw rocks and chant 'death to the Arabs'. They also prevented the ambulances from entering the street, while my son's face was bleeding and his friend almost passed out," Jamal told Ynet.
'Disturbances can end in disaster'
At this point the police officers decided to evacuate the three Arabs through a back entrance. "I trusted the officers. We made it to the back of the building and then jumped two meters down. Then we had to jump over another railing; we had already reached the squad car when a number of Jewish youngsters spotted us and yelled 'there they are; death to the Arabs', Jamal said.
"One of the officers told us to run to the squad car, but it wouldn’t start. Meanwhile, the young Jews were approaching us; the officer opened the door and ran away and told us to do the same. We didn’t know what to do; we ran for our lives. I saw a construction site nearby and told my son and his friend 'let's run and hide there'. We ran fast, jumped over a three-meter wall and bruised our legs. My son's friend was hurt in the chest and said 'I'm going to die; I'm out of breath.' Then I spotted a guard's booth – that's what saved our lives," Jamal said.
He went on to say that the guard, a Jew named Nissim, locked the door and turned off the light. "He saved us. The (Jews) had no idea that we were right under their noses. When they couldn’t find us, they just walked away," Jamal said.
He then called the police and Maged David Adom once again. An ambulance that arrived at the scene shortly thereafter evacuated the three to the hospital. They were released to their homes Thursday morning.
"Only now do I understand that they wanted to lynch us like the terrorists lynched the Jewish soldiers in Ramallah," Jamal said.
"I want to say to both the Jewish and Arab public, we've been living here together for 60 years and will continue to do so for dozens more. These disturbances can end in disaster. With a little bit of tolerance and patience toward one another we'll prevent such incidents from recurring."
Jamal slammed Akko Mayor Shimon Lankry, saying he was responsible for the tensions between Jews and Arabs in the city. "It all started when he took office. Jews and Arabs used to live in peace here, but he brought to the city a population of settlers who are unfamiliar with the Jewish-Arab relations here," he said.