Dekla Medad had hitched a ride to Beersheba from her home in Susia in the southern Hevron mountains. After a couple of miles, she and the driver, a resident of Jerusalem, saw about 15 Arab youngsters blocking the road.
Three other hitchhikers sat in the back seat, including 18-year-old Aharon Ben Avraham.
“It was about 12:30 in the afternoon,” Ben Avraham recalled, following the incident last week. “The children looked at us strangely, and I thought they wanted to throw stones. Then on the right I saw three Arab men jump out of a car parked in the field. They climbed a hill overlooking the road. As we got closer, I saw a rifle and then there was a burst of gunfire.”
“They’re shooting at us. Duck!” screamed Dekla.
“After the shooting stopped, I started to raise my head, and there was another burst.” added Ben Avraham. “One of the bullets came within an inch of my back. The Arab children were trying to get the driver to slow down.”
This new Arab maneuver of using children as decoys comes at the same time of the killing of a 13-year-old Arab girl in the Gaza Strip this week. Israel Defense Forces are investigating the incident in which Army officers explained that Arab terrorists diverted the girl from her path to school in order to draw out Israeli soldiers and expose them to snipers.
The girl had thrown a bag at the soldiers, who feared it was a bomb. The bag later was discovered to be full of schoolbooks.
The episode in the southern Hevron mountains was the first of its kind in the area, which has been relatively quiet since the four-year-old Oslo war broke out.
Fourteen bullet holes were found in the car whose windows were shattered. No one was injured. Dekla immediately called her father, a security official, who informed the Army.
The unidentified driver traveled several miles to safety on a flat tire which had been shot out by gunfire.