The bus had broken through a guardrail and plunged into a ravine. It tumbled approximately 230 feet down a muddy hill before coming to a stop. This complex situation made evacuating victims extremely difficult. Before paramedics could arrive, the Palestinian family was already helping injured passengers off of the bus.
The medical officer with the Israel Defense Force, Captian Sivan Raviv, said that the quick actions of the family helped to save lives on the bus. She told reporters, “They didn’t think about it or consider it. They saw saving lives as their first priority. When we got there we saw the family trying to extract passengers and treating them.”
Sadly, two people died in the accident. Avishai Kroani, 37, and Ofir Rachmanov, 23, both died from injuries sustained in the crash. Kroani was the bus driver. Seven other passengers were injured.
The torrential rain, the muddy hill, and the darkness all hampered the rescue operation. Raviv said, “The bus was turned over and completely destroyed. We couldn’t afford to miss any one. The bus was totally crushed. We weren’t thinking of anything but their quick extraction.”
The family used flashlights to try to evacuate passengers before other help arrived. Shortly after, residents from a nearby settlement arrived and began to carry people up the steep hillside. Finally IDF helicopters arrived and lifted injured passengers from the ravine to the ambulances waiting on the road above.
Anyone who rushes into the rain at night to help others deserves credit. Because of the fragile political situation in the West Bank, this rescue was even more heroic. The village that the family lives in is near to the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Levona. The international community considers such settlements in the West Bank as illegal, and the Palestinians there resent them.
There is often great animosity between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank. There is often violence between the two groups. However, those feelings were set aside for long enough to rescue those in need after the terrible bus crash.
Raviv lauded the family’s selflessness and quick actions. She said that the family certainly saved the lives of the injured passengers.
This Palestinian family’s actions offer a glimmer of hope in a trying time for the region. Negotiation after negotiation has failed to solve the complex political situation in the Middle East. President Trump has signalled that he will back Israel more strongly than any president before him, which has Palestinians and other Arabs worried.
Luckily, the biggest problems of the world don’t have to be solved before smaller ones can be taken on. This one family proved that private citizens can literally save lives through compassion and respect for those on the other side. Hopefully, politicians around the world will learn the lesson from them.