09 February 2003

Ambulances and Bombs

When we hear the sounds of an ambulance siren behind us, there are usually two automatic reactions that occur. The first is that we pull over to the right side of the road. The second reaction is that we usually worry about the welfare of the person inside the ambulance that needs such


At the same time we are moving aside to let the ambulance through, we do not wonder if the ambulance is carrying a bomb or armed terrorists. On the other hand, this is a real concern for Jews driving down the street in Israel.

Last week I heard a passing comment about how terrible it was that an ambulance was delayed at a security checkpoint. I agree, this is a terrible situation. The fact that Israelis can not longer trust ambulances to be transporting people needing medical treatment is a horrible situation.

There have been many instances where Red Crescent ambulances have been used for terrorist activities. One such example was reported on in the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, on June12, 2002. It reported that when Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance carrying a woman and three children, they also found a 22 pound bomb sewn into a coat crammed into a stretcher mattress. The bomb was taken out of the ambulance and detonated in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRP).

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the driver, Islam Jibril confessed to trying to smuggle in the bomb. He also admitted both that this was not the first time that an ambulance was used to transfer terrorists and bombs, and that Red Crescent workers are sent on terror missions. Jibril said that the bomb, assembled as a belt to be worn by a suicide bomber, was given to him by Mahmoud Titi of the Al Aqsa Brigade, a group associated with the Palestinian Authority.

In a statement, the Israeli Emergency Services of the Magen David Adom "requests the International Red Cross intervene immediately in order to ensure that its protege, the Palestinian Red Crescent, strictly observe and respect the protective emblems, for humanitarian purposes only."

The ICRP responded to the bomb incident by saying that it was "shocked and dismayed" and "condemns such use of an ambulance and of the Red Crescent emblem." (Journal of Emergency Medical Services www.jems.com/jems/news02/0415a.html) ICRP also stated that

it "understands the security concerns of the Israeli authorities, and has always acknowledged their right to check ambulances..."

This is only one situation out of many. In January 2002, Wafa Idris blew herself up on a crowded street in Jerusalem becoming one the first female suicide bombers. She was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, as was Mohammed Hababa, the Tanzim (terrorist organization with ties to the Palestinian Authority) operative who sent her. She left the West Bank in an ambulance.

In October 2001, Nidal Nazal, a Hamas terrorist was arrested by the Israel Defense Forces. He was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, and used the unrestricted travel to be a messenger between Hamas headquarters and different West Bank towns.

These terrorists have even boasted about using ambulances to news organizations such as Al-Jazeera and others in the Arab press. To see English translations go to www.memri.org.

It is a terrible state of affairs that the Israeli authorities must search ambulances in order to feel safe. What is even worse is that the Red Crescent has compromised its humanitarian role to be used by terrorists. Any injured people that are delayed at the checkpoints can thank the

Palestinian Authority and other terrorist organizations for destroying the trust that should go along with riding in the back of an ambulance.

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