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Israeli Rescue Operation at the Heart of Arab Samaria

"I did not think twice before I agreed," the anesthesiologist said.
Dr. Micha Shamir on the way to Shchem.

Dr. Micha Shamir on the way to Shchem.
Photo Credit: Hadassah Ein Kerem

Dr. Micha Shamir, of Hadassah Resuscitation School and Service, and paramedic Moshe Tzalach went to the city of Shchem in Samaria on Sunday, to move 27-year-old Hilmi Abdul Azizi who had been seriously injured from a gunshot in a clash with Jewish settlers in the village of Qusra, Ma’ariv reported.

Another Arab, Khalid Nafed, was injured in his foot.

“It was crucial for Israel that we save the injured man’s life. Getting into Shchem was unpleasant and we experienced a few moments of fear,” Dr. Shamir told Ma’ariv.

The patient was being treated in a local hospital but his life was in danger and the hospital sought medical help from Israel. Officials contacted Dr. Shamir to ask if he would go to Shchem without a military escort.

“I did not think twice before I agreed,” the anesthesiologist said.

The mission was approved after coordination with the mayor of Shchem and the Israeli Civil Administration, and Palestinian police accompanied the doctor.

“For a decade, there hasn’t been such a mission,” Dr. Shamir said. “We could have easily been kidnapped should someone had decided to do it.”

An unidentified Arab vehicle waited at the entrance to Shchem, and the driver sped past protesters who were clashing with Israeli troops near a military checkpoint. At the same time, in a nearby IDF base, a Yasur chopper was being prepared to fly in and pick up the patient as soon as he was outside the city limits.

“His condition was stable but we had to check him before evacuating him,” said Dr. Shamir. He and the paramedic Tzalach worked for a long time to stabilize the condition of the young man, “Even though we were under a time constraint, we had to check him every quarter of an hour, to see if he responds well to the instrumentation. You can’t just take the injured man out after you see that everything is okay.”

Abdul Azizi was then evacuated by ambulance to a nearby IDF base where the chopper, and a few special forces soldiers was waiting to take him to hospital in Israel.

As they left the Nablus hospital, the Israeli medics saw dozens of Arabs gathering near the hospital.

“This was very unpleasant,” reported Dr. Shamir. “When we entered the hospital, nobody knew about us, but the mission had already been exposed and anyone could have done whatever they wanted,” Shamir said.

The young Arab’s condition continues to be difficult, but, according to Dr. Shamir, his chances of recovery are much higher at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital than at the local hospital in Shchem.202

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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