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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Saving Lives in Judea and Samaria – The Untold Story

Israel medical emergency services

Photo Credit: Ehud Amiton

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A common phenomenon in Judea and Samaria is that many Palestinians turn to the IDF and to Israeli medical emergency services to receive medical attention. Local Arabs, whether ill or wounded, receive immediate life-saving medical treatment regardless of existing security tensions, and with no prerequisites.

A recent case is that of a two year old infant who was treated by Magen David Adom (MDA) medics and the Kfir battalion medical staff after being critically wounded by his father, who accidentally hit him with his car. The family brought the child to the main gate at Neve Tsuf, where he received first-responder treatment.

Two weeks later, IDF medical officials and local volunteers treated two Palestinians that were brought to Neve Tsuf after falling from a high elevation and suffering moderate injuries to their limbs and spinal columns. They were later evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Neve Tsuf is one of several Jewish settlements that provide medical care to local Arabs. Israeli medical services primarily tend to Palestinians wounded in car accidents throughout Judea and Samaria, usually between Palestinian vehicles.

An agreement was signed between Palestinian Red Crescent and the MDA, ensuring the use of MDA’s advanced equipment by Red Crescent. By virtue of this agreement, Red Crescent ambulances pass through military checkpoints without inspection, and occasionally abuse this privilege to transport weapons.

Medical treatment by Israeli medical officials is provided even during periods of increased security tensions, such as Arab riots, stone throwing, and various assaults on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, including a stone-throwing attack on an ambulance from Neve Tsuf over a month ago.

And yet, the humanitarian aid provided to Arabs in Judea and Samaria has not been picked up on or published by the media.

MK Aryeh Eldad of The National Union party, a former commanding officer of the military medical corps in the IDF, stated: “In any case when emergency medical care is required, it is to be provided regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion, whether he’s a friend or foe. Thus, the IDF and MDA must offer medical care if it is needed immediately, eligibility for medical insurance not withstanding. Every doctor and medic in the army takes an oath to conduct themselves in this fashion. The world at large knows little about these occurrences; “the world” is more interested in incidents of harm brought to Arabs rather then cases of treating them. There is no doubt the world should know more about these activities”.

Jerusalem district MDA spokesman, Danny Rotenberg, added that the MDA, as a national rescue organization, provides emergency care services throughout the entire State of Israel, including Judea and Samaria. He said that the population of Judea and Samaria includes an Arab segment, and when the MDA receives an emergency call, it is understood that they are morally obligated to provide medical care via the medical teams dispersed throughout Judea and Samaria.

When asked about the funding of medical treatment for Palestinians, Rotenberg points out that it’s a sensitive issue. The MDA never stipulates the provision of medical care with the ability to pay for it. First, medical care is provided, and then the issue of reimbursement is examined on an individual basis. “We hope that through cooperation in emergency cases of this kind, we are acquiring ambassadors of good will on the basis of the love of human kindness regardless of religion, age or nationality”. Avigdor Shatz, Director of the security department in the Benyamin regional municipality, said in a statement: “This phenomenon exists in other settlements in Judea and Samaria, although not as frequently as in Neve Tsuf, which is situated on a main route, and therefore is more accessible to the Palestinian population”. He added that as a professional he offers support to anyone who requires it. “I think this is a part of a basic set of ethics which anyone who provides medical care should have. And this is how we conduct ourselves. The number of Palestinian casualties in car accidents we treat is immense, and does not consist only of those who seek care at the front gate”.

When posed with the question of whether the Palestinian population and their representatives conveyed any expressions of gratitude, he replied that there is a big gap between what actually happens and between what the politicians report on our side, as well as what is publicized outwardly. “This aspect is of less interest to me, I don’t think the Palestinian Authority has expressed any gratitude except in two cases which occurred in the Palestinian Authority’s territory. In one case, a large purification facility collapsed while the concrete was being laid, and we came and rescued tens of casualties and treated them. In another case, a building in El-Bira collapsed; an entire floor fell in, we arrived with other medical teams such as the IDF’s search and rescue unit, and provided medical care and evacuated the wounded. In the first case the engineer’s company which designed the facility published a newspaper ad thanking us, and in the second case the governor of Ramallah thanked us personally”.

As for any cooperation with Red Crescent, he stated that the MDA is more properly dispersed as opposed to Red Crescent which is usually only stationed in the large cities. The MDA has ambulances that provide regional services based out of the settlements. Therefore if there is an accident near Shiloh, for instance, the Red Crescent will come out of Ramallah or Shchem, as opposed to the MDA ambulances which come from a nearby settlement and provide quick and immediate care. Red Crescent will arrive toward the end of the event and get involved only with the final evacuation. MDA and Red Crescent’s relationship is purely formal, with the civil administration acting as the middleman.

There are also many accounts of Arabs rescuing Israeli casualties, primarily after car accidents. We can actually discern a measure of cooperation in these instances.

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One Response to “Saving Lives in Judea and Samaria – The Untold Story”

  1. Simcha says:

    This is the reason that I could never be a medic in Israel. I would NEVER ever treat the enemy. The IDF and the Israeli Medical Emergency Services are making a drastic mistake by treating the enemy. Those who care about the enemy end up not caring about their own which we have already seen in the results of the situation we are in today. The Jewish people must wake up and stop helping the enemy which will G-d forbid only cost more Jewish lives in the end.

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