Eli Rott rescues an IDF soldier in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. (Photo: United Hatzalah.) (Photo: United Hatzalah.)
eli rott


Three United Hatzalah volunteers were killed that day, and 25 were wounded, as they tried to save their fellow Israelis.

By Batya Jerenberg

For the first time since October 7th, United Hatzalah (UH) medics told The New York Post in a report published Saturday of how they rushed south during the Hamas invasion to save wounded Israelis even while coming under fire, and often before the army arrived on the scene.

Religious Hatzalah head Eli Beer was running the dispatch center on the day, which was the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, since the saving of lives takes precedence over preserving the sanctity of the day and being in the synagogue for prayers.

“On a normal day, we have 2,000 calls,” Beer told the New York daily. “On October 7th we had 12,500…. The command center looked like chaos,” with people “screaming, not talking” into the phones, begging for help.

Along with some 1,700 of their volunteers, Beer’s wife Gitty, a trained paramedic, could not refuse to respond to the emergency. Before forcing her ambulette to its maximum of 100 mph, she called Beer to say goodbye, telling him, “I may not come back.”

This was a real fear, as one volunteer who didn’t want his real name used, recounted having a pickup truck filled with ten Hamas terrorists firing at his ambulance as he zoomed down the road.

Weaving his way between the bullets, he reached the Nova dance site, which was filled with dead bodies and burning cars. When he yelled out that anyone who was still alive should come immediately or he’d drive on, dozens fled towards him from their hiding spots, he said.

He stuffed as many people as he could in his vehicle and screamed off down Route 232, which became known as the “Highway of Death” because of all the Hamas terrorists gunning down people there that day.

They again fired on his ambulance as he drove, and he shot back blindly out the window with his own pistol. The courageous man drove up and down this road for 16 hours, and estimated that he saved 100 people in his vehicle.

“If United Hatzalah wasn’t there you would have had another thousand people dead,” he said.

Gitty Beer went to Kfar Aza, one of the hardest hit kibbutzim, describing the scene as “insane,” saying, “We were driving straight into the fire zone, we had no idea what was going on.”

There were so many wounded she knew she couldn’t save them all, and started doing triage on the spot, even while the bullets flew. She and the doctor with her did treat one soldier, though, even though he had “half his skull missing,” because he wore a wedding band and she thought he may have children at home. She intubated and treated him in an ambulance, and a UH helicopter arrived to get him to a hospital just in time to save his life.

The use of all helicopters in the area had actually been forbidden by the IDF, fearing they’d be struck by Hamas missiles, which rained down in their thousands to begin their offensive.

Because it was the safest way to evacuate the wounded, Eli Beer braved the possible legal consequences and decided to send his tiny fleet of medevac choppers anyway.

He knew there were dozens of lives on the line, with 50 at least a UH field hospital they had established in the woods outside Sderot, a town that had been invaded by the terrorists.

“All the pilots were like, ‘Why did you wait so long?’ We’re a chutzpah (defiant) organization,” he told The Post.

“We were afraid [the IDF] were gonna shoot us down, but our pilots were ex-IDF who knew how to communicate with the army,” he added.

After UH took to the sky, the police also began using their helicopters, the report noted.

Three United Hatzalah volunteers were killed that day, and 25 were wounded, as they tried to save their fellow Israelis.

The organization was honored on Israel Independence Day along with other rescue services, whose representatives lit the Rescue Forces Torch during the official state ceremony that focused on the heroism that has been on stark display by both citizens and soldiers starting on October 7 and all through the ongoing war against Hamas.

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