On a day when snow still covers the Judean hills, a Jewish doctor from Efrat drives into the Wadi Nis Palestinian village. He is greeted by the locals with smiles and warm hellos. “There’s the doctor,” says one woman to another as Dr. Yitzchak Glick lowers his car window to say hello.
To the villagers of Wadi Nis and six other Palestinian villages in the Gush Etzion region, the kippah-wearing Dr. Glick is a familiar and welcome face. This U.S. born doctor, who made aliyah with his parents in 1974, makes personal house calls every week, providing medical treatment free of charge to Palestinian patientss.
When Dr. Glick sees Mohammed, a construction worker he treated for injuries from a fall from a building a couple of years ago, he stops and gets out of the car. Wearing a red and white keffiyeh headdress, Mohammed greets Dr. Glick with a hug and the two converse like old friends.
“The people here don’t forget what I and other doctors from Efrat have done,” Glick says. “From treating expectant mothers and providing free medicine to saving lives, you become part of their families.”
The connection runs so deep, that the Arab villagers have alerted Efrat authorities on several occasions against terror cells that were approaching the Jewish enclave.
But Glick, a religious Zionist, not only provides medical care to Palestinians in the vicinity of their homes. In 2000, the Efrat doctor, who also travels once a month to work in a hospital emergency room in Cleveland, Ohio, founded the Efrat Emergency Medical Center (EEMC) during the second Intifada. Glick has been serving as the center’s medical director, as a volunteer, for nearly 14 years.
The medical center serves both Israelis and Palestinians in Gush Etzion, treating anywhere from 50 to 100 patients a day, providing emergency care, Magen David Adom (EMT), radiology, pharmacy, and women’s health services. In total, EEMC provides medical care to about 50,000 people from the Gush Etzion-Hebron area.
“There have always been good neighborly relations between many of the local Palestinians and the community of Efrat,” says Dr. Glick.
“In the medical field, doctors are used to treating patients from all walks of life. Here in Gush Etzion, it’s no different – everyone is treated with respect and accorded quality medical care,” Glick adds.
The doctor is also well-known for his treatment of Israeli terror and traffic accident victims, arriving first on scene. He has received the Presidential Award for Volunteerism from President Shimon Peres in 2009 and the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism in 2012.
Dr. Glick, along with his right-hand man and EEMC development manager Yossi Hass, describe how, during the recent snowstorm in Efrat, an ambulance volunteer discovered a Palestinian suffering from hypothermia in the Hebron area. The volunteer brought the man to the medical center, where he was treated and remained through the snowy night.
“There are so many stories like this that happen daily,” said Dr. Glick. “They show another side of reality – where Jewish and Arab residents live together and do their best for each other.”
According to Nave Dromi, a spokesperson for Blue&White Human Rights the public, both in Israel and abroad, has no awareness of such co-existence initiatives.
“It is little known to even many Israelis, that there are Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria who ensure human rights for all the citizens in the region, specifically for Palestinians,” says Dromi.