Humanitarian dilemmas are a recurring issue in the Judea and Samaria region. A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers, is shot and gets wounded. Is an IDF medic to be called to treat him? A building is about to collapse in the heart of Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it jeopardize its soldiers’ lives, or does it call the International Red Cross and risk losing precious time?
To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to Division Medical Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Kassirer, “The treatment of the Palestinian population is first and foremost a moral and professional obligation for every one of us.”
A conference on the topic of humanitarian medicine was held on Monday (Nov. 22), at Hadassah Medical Center at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
“Until September 2000, a Ramallah resident could have taken his car and driven to Ichilov Hospital [in Israel],” began Commander of Judea and Samaria Division, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon. “But from September 2000 we’ve been in a state of terror. Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians alike. The battles took place in the heart of the cities, in places where enemies stood side by side with civilians, with difficult conditions and limited ability to evacuate. We could not practice medicine beyond the minimum. In those days, we were on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.”
But today, he says, the situation is different. Thanks to many efforts on both sides, stability has been restored.
…Dr. Tawfik Nasr, Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and coordinator of all hospitals in east Jerusalem, described the example of patients coming from Gaza to be treated in Jerusalem, sometimes over a period of three to four months. They are housed in a special hotel on the Mount of Olives.
…And, unbelievable though it may sound, because of desire and will, it is working. Last year, 180,000 Palestinian citizens entered Israel to receive treatment.
Dalia Basa, medical coordinator of the Civil Administration, said:
“A bond of mutual trust has been created between [the Israelis and Palestinians]. I always tell them the truth…I will always listen. I hear them. I understand their problems. Ultimately, this is a rewarding experience…There are people who see me on the street or in hospitals, hear my name and say ‘You saved my son’s life’. When you get home in the end of the day and examine your life, you know that you saved lives. You know you did a lot of good.”
CW Postcript: Apparently, the Guardian’s Israel correspondent Harriet Sherwood was too busy covering a lurid sex scandal involving an Israeli policeman to report on this story, but CiF Watch got hold of a draft that was apparently prepared for her in the event that the well-known facts regarding Israeli doctors treating thousands upon thousands of Palestinian patients ever went viral.