23 August 2012 Al-Haq
Last week, an Israeli settler threw a Molotov cocktail into a Palestinian taxi, severely injuring the Ghayatha family that was travelling near Gush Etzion, a cluster of Israeli settlements located south-west of Bethlehem. Al-Haq field researchers briefly interviewed the victims of the attack, who are still hospitalised, some of whom in critical condition, in Jerusalem.
On Thursday 16 August at approximately 5.30 pm, Ayman Ghayatha (35 years old), his wife Jamila (31 years old), their two children, Iman (four years old) and Muhammad (six years old), and Ayman’s brother Hasan (27 years old) left their village of Nahhalin, Bethlehem governorate, and were travelling by taxi near Gush Etzion, four kilometres from their home.
When the taxi was close to Bat Ayin settlement, the driver, Basem Ghayatha (49 years old), saw an Israeli settler dressed in Orthodox religious clothing walking through the bushes. When the settler was about two metres from the taxi, he threw a molotov cocktail into the vehicle which was set alight. The device entered the car through the side window by Ayman’s front seat and exploded in his lap. At that point, Bassam lost control of the car which crashed against a safety barrier on the side of the road. The passengers remained trapped for several minutes inside the car that was engulfed in flames.
Jamila, who was struggling to leave the car because her plastic shoes has melted to the floor, was the first person to escape and was followed by her daughter Iman. Afterwards, Basem and the remaining passengers also managed to leave the burning taxi. The driver of a passing car called an ambulance, which arrived soon afterwards and took all the members of the Ghayatha family to the Haddasa ‘Ein Karim Hospital in Jerusalem.
All those involved in the incident sustained severe burns. Ayman’s condition is the most critical and he remains in the intensive care unit of Hadassa Hospital. Hasan’s condition is also worrying and he is hospitalised in the burns department. The 6-year-old child, Muhammad, sustained burns on 35 per cent of his hands and back. Basem sustained second degree burns on his face and third degree burns on his hands. Only Iman was discharged the day after the assault. The rest of her family is still receiving medical treatment.