Hebron resident hailed a hero after saving children from burning bus 19Feb12 February 19, 2012

Occupied Palestine  -  18 February 2012

Ramallah -  A hero has emerged in Palestine following the tragic schoolbus accident earlier this week that killed 14 children. A truck that went out of control rammed into the school bus on Thursday, causing it to overturn and catch fire.

Salem Abdullah Abu Markhiyah, a Hebron resident, was the first one on the scene as he was driving to work.

Speaking to Gulf News, Abu Markhiyah – who owns a tire shop in Ramallah – said the bus immediately caught on fire so there was no time to reach the kids inside.

“First we used fire extinguishers from our private car and luckily there was pools of water on the road from rainfall that we used,” he said. “By miracle, we were able to get some children off of the bus, but not all of them were that lucky. After the fire was extinguished, I personally cleared eight burned bodies,” he said.

Instead of being thanked for his act of bravery, Israeli soldiers who stood by and did nothing in the event allegedly approached Abu Markhiyah and began pushing and shoving him for not clearing the scene quickly enough when he was asked to leave.

“I was pushed to the ground and seven soldiers surrounded me and beat me,” he said. “They are merciless people. I was being punished for acting to save the lives of Palestinian children,” he said.

In his hospital room where he is recovering, he is inundated with many thankful guests, people who know him and others who have just heard about what he did.

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