Remarkable reconciliation effort borne from tragic West Bank traffic accident (THE GLOBE AND MAIL) PATRICK MARTIN RAMALLAH, West Bank 02/21/12)
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A tragic traffic accident last week has led to a remarkable effort at
reconciliation between the families of the victims of the crash and
the driver believed to be responsible for the accident.
Five Palestinian kindergarten children and their teacher were killed
Thursday when the school bus in which they were riding was hit head-
on by a truck that crossed into the oncoming lane. Another 20
children and adults were injured, several of them critically with
loss of limbs and severe burns.
The children, residents of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Shuafat
in the northern part of greater Jerusalem, were on a school outing in
the West Bank when the accident happened, just beyond the concrete
security barrier that separates the Jerusalem area from the
Israeli military personnel, police and ambulances responded to the
emergency along with Palestinian paramedics. The children and injured
adults were taken to both Israeli and Palestinian hospitals.
The crash came amidst a savage rainstorm that left large amounts of
water pooling on roads not used to so much rainfall. It is believed
that the driver of the truck, an Arab Israeli, lost control of his
vehicle owing to the slippery conditions and possibly to the
excessive speed at which the truck was travelling.
Just 24 hours after the accident, before any of the victims even had
been buried, representatives of the family of the driver and the
families of the victims met to begin discussions of compensation to
the victims’ families.
To some it may seem almost crass to be bargaining about finances at a
time like this, but Palestinians explain that the meeting is a matter
of demonstrating immediately that there was no intent to harm on the
part of the driver and thereby avoid a vendetta being carried out by
Indeed, the families’ representatives quickly agreed to a hudna – or
truce between the sides – and resolved to meet again after the
funerals of the children and teacher that were conducted Sunday and
While the driver would have been insured, and payouts from the
insurance company will undoubtedly be made to victims and families of
the deceased, much as would be the case in Canada, this additional
personal compensation is very common in Palestinian society. Members
of the driver’s family will scrape together whatever they can and
offer it to calm the victims’ relatives.
Vendettas, duels and revenge killings have been viewed as sanctioned
in the Bible (an eye for an eye) and in the Code of Hammurabi. Though
no longer common in the West, they remain a fact of life in
relatively undeveloped Palestinian society. (© Copyright 2012
CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. 02/21/12)
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