This past year, Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority as well as Magen David Adom have often been attacked by Palestinian terrorists when responding to incidents in the Judea and Samaria area as well as in the country’s capital.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority, which is tasked with providing firefighting services and rescue in Judea and Samaria to Jewish and Palestinian populations, are frequently targeted by Palestinian attackers. Magen David Adom, part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is also a popular target.
Ironically, on a daily basis, both emergency services provide aid and treat the residents of the Palestinian villages that are home to those attackers.
Just last week, on Monday, September 21, an Israeli firefighter’s support vehicle, was attacked on Route 443 near Jerusalem, when rocks were hurled at his vehicle, causing extensive damage. The firefighter himself 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 Molotov cocktails thrown by local Palestinian men which only aggravated the open fire and put the firefighters’ lives at risk.
These events join a long reoccurring phenomenon of terrorism and violence directed at Israeli emergency response services, the same authorities that are tasked with saving all lives, under any circumstances 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 targeted by rocks and Molotov cocktails as a kind of parting gift,” Lubiner recounts.
According to Lubiner, violence against firefighters and rescuers can range from run-of-the-mill stone-throwing by Palestinian youngsters to more well-organized and orchestrated ambushes. Arsonists deliberately set fires while waiting for Israeli fire and rescue and medical officers to arrive and then hurl Molotov Cocktails at them.
Lubiner commented that he and his team have been frequently called to rescue Palestinians from life and death situations, only to be hindered by fire, rocks and worse – that are thrown by the Palestinians’ neighbors, friends and at times even family.
“In the past years, there have even been several cases of firefighters and paramedics coming under sniper fire as well,” noted Lubiner.
Earlier in May, a Magen David Adom ambulance was ambushed near the Beit El community in Samaria, by a Palestinian sniper. The ambulance was riddled with bullet holes, with one just missing the driver.
According to the Geneva Convention and Hague Convention, targeting medical personnel, and especially civilian medical personnel, rescue and aid providers such as firefighters 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 as obligated by international protocol.
“We won’t stop doing what we do, we can’t stop. It is our mission to save lives, all lives,” stresses Lubiner to Tazpit. “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 – only we provide life saving services to all populations without any exceptions.”
By Michael Zeff
Tazpit News Agency