When security forces arrived at the scene, the two groups were pelting each other with rocks. According to TheBlaze, the security forces were targeted by rocks when a police officer pulled a stun gun at a Palestinian villager.
In the middle of the fighting, photographer Shaul Golan with the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, managed to capture an image that truly stood out from the violence.
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) August 2, 2015
"Amid all the chaos, I saw this female officer. She was really scared," Golan said. "She was abandoned in the field and her so-called enemies were guarding her. I knew right away it was a special moment."
One of the men, standing to the officer’s right and wearing a blue shirt, was later identified as Zakaria Sadah, a Palestinian field worker with the Israeli organization Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). The group of Israeli rabbis was founded with the goal of raising public awareness about Tel Aviv’s human rights violations.
According to RHR, the image shows Sadah calling out "Don’t shoot!" at the police. He then proceeded to escort the policewoman back to the Israeli security forces.
While the image, which was quick to circulate the web, offers a rare glimpse of hope in a long history of conflict, many were quick to criticize the two men for their act. Speaking to TheBlaze, Sadah said that he is being accused by many as a Palestinian traitor for protecting the Israeli woman.
"There are those who are writing against me in the Palestinian social media because we protected a policewoman, as if we’re 'traitors,'" he said. "On the other hand, I see that settlers are attacking me. So you feel you’re under fire from both sides."
The criticism toward an otherwise simple and humane act can easily be dismissed as cynical, but has become emblematic of the decades long and seemingly endless Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Sadah, however, remains hopeful and seems as dedicated as ever to preach for peace by example.
"I will continue my way. I don’t care what people say or do," he said. "For me a person is a person. A life of a person is important. At the same time I protected both the policewoman and Palestinian lives. Both are important to me and I will continue my peace activism."