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March 29th, 2017

Light Unto the Nations

Her dad was stoned to death by Palestinians just weeks ago. Now, she's saved a suspected stabber's life

Ruth Eglash

By Ruth Eglash

Published Oct. 19, 2015

MAALE ADUMIM, Israel --- When reports came over the radio Monday that there had been a stabbing outside her office at the Israeli police headquarters in Jerusalem, Maya Stolero rushed out to help.

When she arrived, Stolero, who is trained in first aid, saw a young woman with gunshot wounds lying on the sidewalk. The police said she was a 17-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem who had attempted to stab an Israeli border policeman and was shot while being apprehended.

"I saw she needed medical help and I did what I could," said Stolero, who is 38 and has served in the Israeli police for 20 years.

Palestinians have condemned Israeli measures, including the shooting of Palestinians who Israeli security forces believe are about to carry out attacks against Israelis, as heavy-handed or brutal; Israelis see the tough response as essential to protecting the lives of civilians and officers.

Israeli medics saving the lives of attackers, who many Israelis view as terrorists, is nothing new. But what sets Stolero apart is that her father, Alexander Levlovitz, was the first Israeli killed in the new round of Israeli-Palestinian violence that started just over a month ago.

The teen, whom Palestinians later identified as 15-year-old Marah Bakir, is reportedly in stable condition in an Israeli hospital. The fact that Stolero helped save her life is another irony of living in a conflict zone where lives on both sides are closely intertwined.

"At that moment, I put my personal pain and views aside and drew on my training as a security official and on the values I was brought up with," she said in an interview at her home in Maale Adumim on Thursday.

For Stolero, a mother of three, Thursday was a difficult day. It was exactly 30 days since her father was buried, a traditional Jewish mourning day for the newly deceased. It was also the first court appearance for five Palestinian youths accused by Israel of pelting her father's car with rocks, causing him to swerve across the road, hit an electrical pole and be fatally injured.

At Thursday's court hearing, the prosecution said the youths, ages 16 to 20 and from east Jerusalem, could only be charged with manslaughter and not with murder, as the family had hoped. There was no proof that the suspects had planned to kill anyone but just wanted to damage vehicles, their defense lawyers said.

"It's disappointing that the law does not see stones as a weapon," Stolero said following the hearing. "A stone is clearly a weapon that can kill and the proof is that my father was murdered by stone throwing."

Israelis have long said that stones can kill and there are several other cases, including one involving a 4-year-old Israeli girl who was severely injured in a stone attack in 2013 and later died.

Palestinians often say stones are no match for advanced Israeli weaponry.

Levlovitz, who was killed Sept. 13, the first day of Rosh Hahana, the Jewish New Year holiday, was driving toward the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv when his car came under attack. The road he was driving on is flanked by Arab neighborhoods. The five Palestinian suspects are from one of those neighborhoods.

"When they threw the rocks they did not even know who was in the car. It might not have been someone Jewish, but that's the absurdity of the situation," Stolero said.

Since Levlovitz's death, seven more Israelis have been killed, either shot or stabbed in attacks by Palestinians. And at least 28 Palestinians from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have been killed by Israelis, including some, Israelis say, who were attempting to attack Israelis; others died in clashes with Israeli military forces.

On Wednesday, after more than a month of unrest, the Israeli government announced new measures to clamp down on Palestinian violence, including demolishing the homes of Palestinian attackers, stripping their families of Jerusalem residency rights or Israeli citizenship and transferring them to the Palestinian Authority that controls the West Bank.

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