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Settler firebomb attack 'turned our lives upside down'

Aug. 30, 2012 3:50 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 1, 2012 9:10 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian woman whose husband and two young children were severely injured in an Israeli settler attack says the roadside firebombing had "turned our lives upside down."

On Aug. 16, Israeli settlers firebombed a Palestinian taxi south of Bethlehem, injuring Jamila Hassan, her husband Ayman and their children Iman, 4, and Muhammad, 6, as well as the driver.

"We are lost, our life has turned upside down, the father, son and daughter are each in different worlds, our life is difficult and we’re miserable," Jamila told Ma'an at Haddassah Hospital, where Mohammad and Ayman are being treated.

Muhammad has severe burns on his back, hands, legs and face.

"Yesterday he had an operation and he came out screaming calling me to come in and scratch his back due the severe pain he felt, he screams from the pain a lot," his mother said.

Mohammad was due to start school in the first grade in September, but won't be attending as he'll need to stay in hospital for at least one month, Jamila said. "He will not buy a back pack, notebooks and will not go to school, they killed his dream."

Jamila was not allowed to see her husband in intensive care for several days after the attack. He suffered third degree burns on his face and 30 percent of his body.

She was able to see him when his condition stabilized.

"He spoke really softly, I could barely hear. I got close to him and he asked me about our two children and I reassured him they were fine. He asked me not to allow them in to see him in his condition. He said: 'I am afraid.'"

Four-year-old Iman is staying with her aunt, Fida, who said the girl is constantly in tears.

"Iman is living in constant fear especially at night and can't handle hearing sounds of cars. She refuses to leave the house. She spends most of her time talking about the fire and how the car was burned and asks where her father, mother and brother are … her situation is really difficult," her aunt told Ma'an.

Iman said: "I am afraid and I don’t want to ride the car … I am afraid a fire will start and burn everything."

She remembers seeing a person in "a hat and two braids of hair" throw the firebomb and flee.

Jamila told Ma'an the family was going shopping for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr when the attack happened.

"When we were driving we got near a settlement entrance. We saw a settler looking at us and all of a sudden he threw something at our car which turned into a huge fire and smoke surrounding us for a few minutes until we were able to leave the car," she said.

"We were sitting in the back seat which protected us somehow, because the Molotov hit the front seat where my husband and the driver were sitting. My daughter Iman had the least injuries because she fell between the seats and was protected."

Israeli police have arrested three children from Bat Ayin settlement suspected of carrying out the attack.

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