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September 30, 2015 11:34 am

Israeli Emergency Responders Attacked By the Very Palestinians They Try to Help

avatar by Michael Zeff / Tazpit News Agency

Magen David Adom responds to a vehicular attack on IDF soldiers near Gush Etzion. Photo: Twitter.

Magen David Adom responds to a vehicular attack on IDF soldiers near Gush Etzion. Photo: Twitter.

This past year, Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority and ambulance service Magen David Adom have often been attacked by Palestinian terrorists when responding to incidents in Judea-Samaria, Jerusalem and other areas.

Ironically, these incidents occur while Israeli emergency services are in the process of aiding Palestinians.

Just last week, on September 21, an Israeli firefighter’s support vehicle was attacked by rock-throwers on Route 443 near Jerusalem. The attack caused extensive damage, and the firefighter had to be rescued.

On Saturday night, September 19, four squads of Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority were called in to extinguish a large-scale fire on the outskirts of Jerusalem, near the Palestinian village of Anata. While battling the flames, the firefighters were attacked by local Palestinian men, who threw Molotov cocktails at them — which exacerbated the fire and increased the risk to firefighters.

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These events are part of a broader trend of terrorism and violence directed at Israeli emergency response services, the same authorities that are tasked with saving all lives, under any circumstances and in all areas of the country.

“A Molotov cocktail exploded only a few meters away from me and sadly it wasn’t the first time,” Momi Lubiner, a senior fire chief who was present at the Anata incident, told Tazpit. “We are often called to extinguish fires or even rescue trapped Palestinians in burning buildings inside Palestinian villages and towns; many times, on our way back from a successful rescue operation, we are [attacked with] rocks and Molotov cocktails as a kind of parting gift.”

According to Lubiner, violence against firefighters and rescuers can range from stone-throwing by Palestinian youths to more well-organized and better-orchestrated ambushes. For example, he said, arsonists often deliberately set fires, wait for Israeli fire and rescue and medical officers to arrive and then hurl Molotov cocktails at them.

Lubiner lamented that he and his team have frequently been called to rescue Palestinians from life-and-death situations, only to be hindered by fire, rocks and worse — all thrown by the Palestinians’ neighbors, friends and, at times, even family members.

“Over the past few years, there have even been several cases of firefighters and paramedics coming under sniper fire, as well,” said Lubiner.

In early May, a Magen David Adom ambulance was ambushed near the Beit El community in Samaria, by a Palestinian sniper. The ambulance was riddled with bullets, with one just missing the driver.

According to the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention, targeting medical personnel, especially civilian medical personnel, is strictly forbidden.

International law, however, provides little practical protection to the men and women of Israel’s various emergency and rescue services who are tasked with saving all human lives regardless of color, creed or gender.

“We won’t stop doing what we do; we can’t stop. It is our mission to save lives, all lives,” Lubiner stressed. “The difference between a civilian and a firefighter is that a firefighter runs into the places a civilian runs from.”

“We risk our lives under fire, both figuratively and literally, [yet] we provide life-saving services to all populations, without any exceptions.”

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