(JNi.media) An appeal of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has led to a dramatic change in the guidelines of Israel’s Medical Association, imposed by its Ethics Bureau: from now on, medical teams must provide medical care to victims at the scene of a terrorist attack, including the terrorist perpetrators, according to the severity of their injury.
To date, EMTs were instructed to treat all the victims of an attack first, before the attacker, in line with the rule of “The poor of your city come first” (the rabbinic version of “charity begins at home”); but from now on, according to the dramatic resolution, reported by Israel Hayom, the medics must triage only according to the severity of the injury.
The IMA Ethics Bureau is the only entity in Israel in charge of setting the standards of medical ethics for all doctors and medical teams. Its instructions have a profound influence on all the emergency medical professionals, including paramedics, medics, nurses and administrators. However, the change in the existing triage procedure that was decided earlier this week was not publicized, but was merely entered in the guidelines published on the IMA website, for fear of “political and public criticism of the decision during the widespread wave of terror,” Israel Hayom reported.
The dramatic decision was made after a long discussion that took place at the Ethics Bureau last week, at the request of Physicians for Human Rights, a not-for-profit NGO whose stated view is that “Israel’s prolonged occupation over Palestinian territory is the basis of human rights violations. For this reason we oppose the occupation and endeavor to put an end to it. PHR-Israel stands at the forefront of the struggle for human rights – the right to health particularly – in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Between 2008-2014, the anti-Zionist New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $1,275,815 to PHR-Israel, according to NGO Monitor. The Israel PHR has received additional donations from the Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Diakonia (Sweden), Medico International (Germany), Bread for the World (Germany), the European Union, HEKS-EPER (Switzerland), Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and UNHCR. Its operating budget is assessed at between $1 and $2 million annually. It buys a lot of ethics.
PHR-Israel addressed the IMA Ethics Bureau, saying that the former directive seriously contradicts the principles of internationally accepted medical ethics and international humanitarian law. Chairman of the IMA Ethics Bureau, Dr. Tammy Karni, told Israel Hayom that the reason for changing the rule is that “doctors are not judges. The meaning of keeping the directive intact was to tell the doctor to investigate who is to blame and punish them by denying care. In a multiple-injury event it’s very easy to make mistakes in identification, and the treating physician clearly can’t do a precise identification of the victims. The doctor must be focused on saving the lives of as many people as possible. It isn’t decent to add to the doctor’s triage task criteria that are unrelated to the health of the casualties.”
The principle of “The poor of your city come first” at the scene of an attack was part of the guidelines of the Ethics Bureau that were written in 2008. The earlier directives were formulated by a group of doctors, including Prof. Pinchas Halpern, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and a leading expert in emergency medicine in Israel. According to Halpern, removing the former directive was a mistake, and instead there needed to be a hearing on the issue which in the end would specify the guiding principles for treatment of an enemy.