Last Monday, just after 9 PM, a man climbed the White Mosque in Ramla and threatened to commit suicide by jumping off the building. People on the street alerted the police as they witnessed him throwing his clothes from the side of the building. Police arrived quickly and called for emergency medical services to assist.
Martial Arts instructor and United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Avraham Arnon, who lives in Ramla and teaches martial arts at the local community center, was just waking up when he received the alert. “I didn’t even have time to throw a shirt on, I grabbed my motorcycle jacket and rushed out to respond to the emergency,” Arnon recalled.
He arrived a the scene in less than three minutes and saw the man starting to hurl stones and pipes from the roof of the ancient mosque at the gathered police below. “I moved my ambucycle to a safe distance and then asked the officers what was going on,” he continued.
Arnon was told that the man had been requesting to speak to a former border police officer and that they were trying to locate one and get them to come to the scene. Arnon told the officers that he was a former border police officer and was given the name of the man on the roof of the mosque so he could open a conversation with him. He turned out to be one of Arnon’s former students in his martial arts program years ago.
“I began to speak to the man and build up a rapport,” Arnon related. “We spoke about being in the border police corps and our shared love for martial arts. I asked him if I could come up to join him on the roof and he agreed.”
“Just then, the police negotiators had arrived and we attempted to climb a fire truck’s ladder to the top of the minaret, but the ladder didn’t reach. We climbed the stairs but they were blocked by bars. I asked him if a firefighter could come up and cut the bars that were blocking the stairs and he agreed. He also asked for cigarettes and water. Once the bars were cut I brought him the water. He asked for the cigarettes and I told him I don’t have any because I rushed over right from bed. He told me to call my wife and tell her that I was okay and I did. Then I told him I could get him cigarettes when we climbed down from the minaret.”
After he built up a rapport with the man, Arnon and the police negotiator managed to talk him off the minaret and got him to agree to come down to the ground level.
“I’ve been a volunteer EMT for more than two years and this is the first time I have ever been in this type of situation,” Arnon said. “I’m grateful that I was able to reach a rapport with the man and that everything ended well. It was a very stressful situation.”