IDF and Israeli medical teams treat a Palestinian patient. (Illustrative photo/Gershon Elinson/Flash90) (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
IDF medical

Israeli medical teams care for Jewish and Arab patients equally. Most recently, the IDF established a unit designated solely for the treatment of Palestinians.

IDF soldiers

IDF and Palestinian Red Crescent teams work at the scene of an accident. (IDF blog)

A newly designated IDF reserves company will focus entirely on providing medical care and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population, the IDF announced this week. In a recent week-long exercise, these reservists worked to refine their skills in order to provide the best possible care.

The exercise was conducted by Maj. (Res.) Amit Katzir. The reservists were confronted with stressful real-time situations in order to bolster their responsiveness during times of unexpected emergency. Beyond providing urgent treatment, the reservists also practiced their readiness in providing aid after natural disasters and other extreme circumstances.

Capt. (Res.) Dr. Yishai Lev, deputy commander of the company, stresses that when people are wounded, attention is not placed on whether or not the person is Israeli, but on the importance of people’s common humanity. “This medical care stems from our commitment to the Jewish and modern value of human rights,” he elaborated.

The company is staffed by doctors, medics, and nurses – all trained to provide effective medical care. These medical reservists are supplied with advanced equipment that would allow them to function as a full-fledged civilian hospital staff. The emphasis is placed on both physical and psychological attention, ensuring that patients receive all the care they need. Patients are offered an interpreter and have the option of bringing a friend for support. If additional care is needed, doctors can send their patients for further medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

“The idea of adapting the unit actually came from our soldiers who recognized the need for it in the field,” explained Lev. “We felt that medical care was needed for the entire population in times of need. Now, we provide first class care in a variety of situations: during and after riots, operations and even natural disasters.”

The company also works closely with Palestinian medical institutions to help develop Palestinian medical infrastructure. “When people are in need of care, we can’t afford to be indifferent,” explained Lev. “My soldiers leave their families, children, and jobs behind not just because they are obligated to carry out their reserve duty, but because they deeply understand the importance of fulfilling their mission and are happy to do so.”

Long Track Record of Treating Palestinian Patients

This new unit is by no means a unique instance of Israelis providing Palestinians with medical treatment. Israeli hospitals and medical teams have a long track record of treating Palestinian patients, in many cases free of charge.

Palestinian patient treated at Israeli hospital

Boy from Gaza treated at Rambam hospital in Haifa. (RHCC)

IDF medical teams and Israeli civilian emergency units from communities in Judea and Samaria regularly treat local Arabs, often after car accidents, for a broad array of ailments and injuries. Walking to an IDF checkpoint or to the front gate of an Israeli community for medical treatment is common practice among Arabs living in the Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered territories. In some months, Israeli medics treat more Palestinians than Israelis.

On April 1, 2014, for example, an IDF medical team treated 20 wounded Palestinian Arabs after a serious car crash. Last December, a car accident in the region involved three seriously injured Palestinian Arab women who were treated by an IDF medical team at the scene. They required more extensive care and were transferred to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa provides medical care to hundreds of patients from Gaza and the PA-administered territories year round; 650 children and teenagers were treated there throughout 2013.

During Operation Protective Edge last summer, as terrorists in Gaza were firing on Israeli citizens, patients at Rambam included three adults and eight children from Gaza as well as three adults and two children from the PA, in addition to seven patients from the PA in outpatient clinics.

A report published by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) shows that 219,464 Palestinian patients received medical treatment in Israeli hospitals during 2012, including 21,270 children.

Most recently, in April two teams of Israeli volunteer rescuers rushed to the Jordan Valley to save the lives of two Palestinians who were drowning.

By: United with Israel Staff
(With files from the IDF Blog)

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