Students' car after incident
Photo: Assaf Ben-Ari

Israelis attacked on way to Jerusalem pub

Three students and Australian tourist take wrong turn on way to Jerusalem's city center, find themselves in heart of Arab neighborhood of Issawiya. 'Dozens of young men began throwing stones and sticks at us. It was a well-planned ambush,' driver recounts

Three students from the central city of Givatayim and their Australian friend will never forget their nightly drive to Jerusalem's city center. The three, who picked up the young woman from the Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus, almost paid with their lives after taking a wrong turn.


"There were four of us in the car, and we planned to sit in a quiet pub on Ben-Yehuda Street and talk," the driver, Assaf Ben-Ari, told Ynet on Friday morning. "There were no signs, and since we don't live in the area we didn't know how to turn back. We took a right turn on one of the curves and found ourselves on a one-way road in an unfamiliar area."


Shortly afterwards the four began feeling discomfort, which was soon replaced with real fear.


"After driving for a minute, we saw a 12-year-old boy walking on the side of the road. We explained to him that we lose our way and asked how to get to Ben-Yehuda Street. He said in an Arabic accent that he didn't speak Hebrew and called someone. That's when I began realizing that something was wrong," Assaf recounted.


As he and his friends were waiting, Assaf noticed that all the store signs in the area were in Arabic. "An older person arrived and he and the kid began laughing at us. They told us to continue driving on the same road, while the older one was on the phone and simply sent us into a well-planned ambush."


'Look of murder in their eyes'

The group had no choice and continued driving according to the instructions, and found themselves in the heart of the neighborhood of Issawiya. They decided to turn back, but were shocked to discover that the road had been blocked.


"I don't know how they managed, but only two minutes later they set up a barrier which included a barbed-wire fence, chairs, and iron pipes. We were in shock. We suddenly heard an explosion sound in the back, and saw the boy and the adult who we spoke to throwing bricks at us."


'It was like a nightmare' (Photo: Assaf Ben-Ari)


The car's rear windowpane was smashed, and young men began coming out of the neighborhood houses and throwing stones at the vehicle. The driver began speeding into the center of Issawiya.


"My friend contacted the police, and after we managed to get away I stopped and contemplated what to do. I had never encountered such a situation of helplessness without any preparation, and with friends and a terrified tourist," Assaf said.


Meanwhile, "the entire neighborhood woke up and dozens of young men gathered next to us and waited for us with sticks and stones. I considered escaping from the vehicle or even hiding until the police arrived, but I knew we wouldn't stand a chance if they found us outside the car. Several minutes later we were surrounded, and I realized that I must drive my car into the barrier if I want to get out of here alive."


At that moment, he began driving fast while being hit with stones and iron pipes from all directions. "I pressed the gas pedal with all my might, and simply drove into the barrier at 110 kilometers an hour. The barbed-wire fence was caught under the wheels and dragged along. There were sparks in the air."


Part of barbed-wire fence in improvised barrier (Photo: Assaf Ben-Ari)


After crossing the first barrier, the group was shocked to discover a second trap. "Several meters ahead they placed a row of taxis attached to each other in order to prevent us from passing. Luckily, we managed to get through a small gap between the pavement and the wall, a moment before another taxi arrived to close us in."


At the same time, three Border Guard jeeps arrived in the area and ensured that there were no injuries. According to the police, "The fighters dispersed the rioters and the matter has been handed over to the minority department."


"It was like entering a nightmare. They had a look of murder in their eyes," the driver said after the incident. "Had we stayed there one more minute we wouldn't be alive anymore. It wasn't just an attempt to stone us, but an intentional desire to lynch us only several meters way from the university."


Gil Naveh contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 11.05.10, 13:04
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