Israeli medics are leaving wounded Palestinians to bleed to death

Israel/Palestine
on 46 Comments

Last December, an Israeli medic announced on his Twitter account that he would not treat injured Palestinians he deemed “terrorists.”

“As a ZAKA volunteer for close to twenty years. I am announcing publicly, I will not offer aid to a terrorist/murderer that hurt innocents, whatever his condition may be. Before I treat the victims,” he wrote.

Soon after, he claimed to have carried out his promise. On the scene at Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate where a Palestinian man who attacked an Israeli was shot, beaten with a metal rod and kicked by civilians, the medic boasted on Twitter that he did not treat the dying Palestinian man.

“For all of those asking, when I arrived today to the scene of the terror attack at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. I treated those wounded by stabbing and no! I did not go to give aid to the terrorist may his name be erased! despite the fact that his condition was mortal,” he wrote.

This is not an aberration, rather, it is an instance of increasing turmoil in the Israeli medical community over the concept of triage, the internationally recognized protocol for medical treatment based on severity and likely benefit from immediate treatment. 

Changing Israeli Protocol on Triage

In 2008, the website of the Israeli Medical Association listed a Talmudic dictum in its section on ethics.

“In cases where human caused violence results in casualties for the perpetrators of such violence (the enemy), the obligations towards these parties should be clearly defined. Here, the principle to be implemented is “the poor of your city come first,” it read.

When Hadas Ziv, Physicians for Human Rights Israel’s ethics committee coordinator, found this in October 2015, the committee wrote a complaint to IMA’s ethics committee that “statements from medical teams on the ground indicate that they do not prioritize the injured according to their medical condition,” and requested that the licenses of the offending medical staff be revoked. The IMA does not have the authority to revoke medical licenses themselves, but as a professional organization it is able to make recommendations to the Ministry of Health. After PHRI’s letter, the IMA did remove the directive from its website.

In response to the removal of the instruction breaching triage, the aforementioned ZAKA medic and a handful of others made online announcements that they would continue to discriminate in defiance of the IMA.

Rather than expelling the medic who refused to treat a dying Palestinian, ZAKA, the medical organization he works for, confirmed that this breach of triage is the protocol they are training.

“Usually already in the initial stage the attacker is identified, and our policy is to give precedence to the attacked with medical treatment,” ZAKA wrote on Twitter.

A Twitter poll started after the medic’s announcement indicates public support for attacking triage, with 88% of the 59 polled in support.

On October 18, Ziv filed a complaint over changes to the triage protocol with the Ministry of Health, but more than five months later, she has not received a response and the MOH has been silent on the issue.

A Pattern of Denying Medical Aid to Palestinians

In November 2015, the NGO Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor released a report documenting five separate incidents of denial of medical aid to Palestinians by Magen David Adom, which is officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, accusing it of violating the Geneva Conventions. “Such discrimination in providing medical treatment, even when a crime has been attempted, is prohibited and illegal under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”

A video taken after a stabbing attack in the occupied West Bank last Thursday shows Israeli medics treating an injured Israeli soldier while two Palestinians lie on the ground, severely injured. Both Palestinians, Ali Jamal Muhammad Taqatqa, 19, and Ali Abd al-Rahman al-Kar Thawabta, 20, died of their wounds.

In video footage of the killing of 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun in Hebron, an Israeli settler named Ofer – who local activists claim has no medical training and operates a fake ambulance – can be seen discouraging Israeli medics from treating her. Other videos show Israeli medical personnel standing idly as she bleeds to death, meanwhile medics from the Palestine Red Crescent Society were refused access to treat her. Amnesty International called her death an “extrajudicial execution.”

In another incident, 21-year old Yasmin al-Zarou was gunned down by Israeli soldiers, who then interrogated her as she bled on the ground. Israeli medics stood over her and even pushed her outstretched hands away as she asked for help.

Widespread Support

Last October, Deputy Minister of the Interior Yaron Mazuz publicly backed the change to triage. “The first priority should be give in to the residents of Israel, mostly to those who were injured from the attacks. Is it unacceptable that we would treat terrorists before residents of the state,” he said on Israel’s Channel Two.

But for Ziv, the MOH’s silence is unusual and deeply troubling.

“Even worse than the right-wing populist politicians who are just looking for headlines – fine, they understand nothing in medical ethics,” Ziv told me in a telephone call. “What worries me is that the Minister of Health [Ya’aldoesn’t see it as its role to say something very clear cut, and I wonder why is that so.”

Attacks on triage are also gaining support in Shaare Zedek, one of Israel’s top hospitals. Speaking at at a conference on the ethics of terror attacks, Dr. Ofer Merin, Executive Director of the Trauma Unit & Deputy Director of Medicine at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, told the audience that adoption of this practice was inevitable – however in euphemistic terms.

“When we reach the ‘day of judgement’ in which we won’t be able to treat everyone, I think – and I say this with complete caution – that if it is impossible to treat everyone, I think there is no avoiding the moral statement that we need to give the innocents different rights than the person who harmed them intentionally,” he said.

Writing in the UK medical journal The Lancet, Merin subtly proposed the idea of abandoning triage in April 2015. “The moral issue of concurrently treating a terrorist and his victim is even more complex. Is it actually realistic to expect the staff to disregard the fact that the terrorist intended to kill the innocent person lying wounded in the same trauma unit?”

Ultimately, he concluded that “Punishment is not the role of the medical staff; rather, their duty and obligation is to preserve life and restore health. Judgment should be the exclusive provenance of the legal system and physicians should practice their art without discrimination and with a clear conscience.”

But the recent violence appears to have created the pretext for Merin to warn that the hospital would soon have no choice but to embrace racist medical practices.

Top state-funded rabbis have also endorsed this practice, abandoning the euphemistic terminology of a moral dilemma, and have even encouraged Israeli police and soldiers to execute wounded Palestinians deemed “terrorists” on the spot.

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a top haredi authority, instructed paramedics from United Hatzalah to “not treat injured terrorists,” and that “If the terrorist was in a life threatening condition, they should leave him or her to die.”

“It is forbidden to leave a murderer alive,” Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu told the Galei Yisrael radio station.

In another instance, Eliyahu said, “Only in a case where you really have no other choice…keep him alive, interrogate him and then send him to hell as soon as possible.”

Rabbi Ben-Tzion Mutzafi, another top haredi rabbi, ordered his students to bludgeon wounded Palestinians to death. “It is commanded to take hold of his head and hit it against the ground until there is no longer any life in it,” he said.

Rabbis Eliyahu and Mutzafi even called for soldiers and police who let Palestinians live to be prosecuted.

“The political situation in Israel is horrific,” Ziv lamented. “The atmosphere, environment and political leadership all influenced other systems in our [Israeli] society. Education has changed, courts have changed – the medical system is not immune to that.”

About Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen is an independent journalist and filmmaker based in Palestine. He tweets at @dancohen3000.

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46 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    March 23, 2016, 12:20 pm

    I don’t think you have to have had worked in health care, as I have, to find this situation vile.

    No one who calls themselves a doctor, nurse, emt, should be deciding whether someone gets treatment based on what you think they have or haven’t done. That violates a basic tenant of humanity. In the treatment of people your first obligation is to your patient. Case closed.

    “In another incident, 21-year old Yasmin al-Zarou was gunned down by Israeli soldiers, who then interrogated her as she bled on the ground. Israeli medics stood over her and even pushed her outstretched hands away as she asked for help.”

    I hope medical associations around the world are taking note. Boycott and sanction them.

    • ritzl
      March 23, 2016, 12:34 pm

      Vile in the extreme.

    • ritzl
      March 23, 2016, 12:53 pm

      Extreme because this isn’t some “fog of war” ambiguity where life and death decisions have to be made in milliseconds. Nope. Thus is a policy of standing over people a watching them die.

      It’s really hard to grasp the extent of the soullessness reauired to do that.

  2. ritzl
    March 23, 2016, 12:33 pm

    Two choices in political triage:

    A) Save the Palestinian so that they remember for their whole life and recount with some gratitude to as many people as one does in a lifetime — that a Jewish-Israeli medic saved their life.

    B) Let the Palestinian die, increase the tension and hatred, and assure that many more will come in his/her place.

    Jewish-Israelis sure seem to live in a kill culture. They never try to defuse anything. Every solution is to kill — even when it comes to people explicitly tasked with SAVING lives if at all possible.

    I can’t imagine a US paramedic denying treatment to anyone. Shouldn’t Magen David Adom be ejected from the ICRC for condoning this and/or making it official policy? It seems to violate every ethic of emergency care that every other EMT org on the planet operates by. Say goodbye to the Haiti and Nepal “caring Israeli medical teams spanning the globe” propagandizing photo-ops if this gets broad coverage..

    • oldgeezer
      March 23, 2016, 1:49 pm

      There was already some movement to eject them from the ICRC. I think it’s long overdue personally. The GoI in it’s typical lying fashion said that these types of things never happened due to policy.

      Israel is an outlaw, rogue state. Sanctions are needed. There is no evidence of any form of morality or decency left in that nation. There are still good people there who are willing to speak out but they typically end up needing bodyguards or fleeing for a more civilized place.

      • CigarGod
        March 24, 2016, 10:19 am

        Eject them from the ICRC?
        An awful lot of organizations and countries have been…coincidentally attacked…after making substantial progress toward…delegitimizing…Israel and Israeli organizations.

    • amigo
      March 23, 2016, 1:56 pm

      Ritzl, you took the words right out of my fingers.

      A nation so much in decline as Israel is, cannot last.Common humanity is less and less on display in this morally bankrupt society.

    • Marnie
      March 24, 2016, 1:24 am

      “Shouldn’t Magen David Adom be ejected from the ICRC for condoning this and/or making it official policy? It seems to violate every ethic of emergency care that every other EMT org on the planet operates by. Say goodbye to the Haiti and Nepal “caring Israeli medical teams spanning the globe” propagandizing photo-ops if this gets broad coverage..”

      God I hope so. I’m sick to death of the ease that the state of israel continues its crimes against humanity and has the united states backing up every foul move it makes.

  3. eljay
    March 23, 2016, 12:41 pm

    … In another incident, 21-year old Yasmin al-Zarou was gunned down by Israeli soldiers, who then interrogated her as she bled on the ground. Israeli medics stood over her and even pushed her outstretched hands away as she asked for help. …

    Captain Israel is proud that these Zio-supremacist medics upheld two of Zionism’s key tenets:
    – Acts of injustice and immorality committed against Jews justify acts of injustice and immorality committed by Jews.
    – Jews are entitled to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them.

    … Israeli medics stood over her and even pushed her outstretched hands away as she asked for help. …

    Was she on the same page vis a vis both a humanitarian basis and an acceptance that Jewish group consciousness is a valid priority or basis for a world view? If not, she failed to engage. I wonder if any of the medics “pulled a yonah” and told her to go f*ck herself.

  4. Talkback
    March 23, 2016, 4:52 pm

    Maybe Leibowitz was right when he claimed that “Judeonazis” rule Israel. Seems to make no difference, wether they are politicians or so called “rabbis” (not to be confused with a spiritual human being).

  5. MaxNarr
    March 23, 2016, 8:47 pm

    I think what he said is perfectly reasonable that the victims of the current Palestinian bloodlust should be treated before the terrorists. He never said he wouldn’t treat the violent Palestinian murderer, just that the innocent victims get first priority before the criminal murderer.

    • Marnie
      March 24, 2016, 1:14 am

      White man’s burden:

      “Top state-funded rabbis have also endorsed this practice, abandoning the euphemistic terminology of a moral dilemma, and have even encouraged Israeli police and soldiers to execute wounded Palestinians deemed “terrorists” on the spot.”

      “Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a top haredi authority, instructed paramedics from United Hatzalah to “not treat injured terrorists,” and that “If the terrorist was in a life threatening condition, they should leave him or her to die.”

      MaxxNarr “I think what he said is perfectly reasonable that the victims of the current Palestinian bloodlust should be treated before the terrorists. He never said he wouldn’t treat the violent Palestinian murderer, just that the innocent victims get first priority before the criminal murderer. ”

      When it comes to expediting the deaths of Palestinians, everybody wants to get into the act – right Maxx? You can still have the thrill of a kill, in a passive-aggressive fashion that folks like you would just love, without actually pulling a trigger. Then you can brag to your inbred relatives about the great mitzvot you performed by ridding the land of the other.

    • eljay
      March 24, 2016, 7:37 am

      || MaxNarr: I think what he said is perfectly reasonable that the victims of the current Palestinian bloodlust should be treated before the terrorists. He never said he wouldn’t treat the violent Palestinian murderer, just that the innocent victims get first priority before the criminal murderer. ||

      So, just to be clear: It would be acceptable – and in no way anti-Semitic – for Palestinian medics to treat victims of Israeli (war) criminal bloodlust before treating IDF terrorists. Innocent Palestinians get first priority before the criminal Zio-supremacist murderers. Is that about right?

    • Marnie
      March 24, 2016, 8:43 am

      In the video, the ‘innocent’ victim, IOF soldier, is being treated first, while his attacker is immobilized on the ground, bleeding. He is then executed by another IOF soldier.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=S8WK2TgruMo

      Translation: Soldier executes a Palestinian lying on the ground wounded after he had stabbed a soldier.

    • CigarGod
      March 24, 2016, 10:24 am

      So, those guys can show up after an incident and immediately determine who is guilty and who is innocent.
      Damn good news…we can save a lot of money by dismantling a huge part of the Israel justice system…doesn’t work much like one anyway.

      • Marnie
        March 24, 2016, 10:52 am

        You could save a lot of money by dismantling more than the injustice system!

    • Talkback
      March 25, 2016, 6:46 am

      MaxNarr: “I think what he said is perfectly reasonable …”

      I think what MaxNarr said is that it was perfectly reasonable to let Jews bleed out while they were attacking occupation soldiers in the last century.

  6. Jon66
    March 23, 2016, 9:16 pm

    Whether EMT or doctor, if you are able to provide treatment you should do so. It’s not the job of medical personnel to judge patients.

    • echinococcus
      March 23, 2016, 9:59 pm

      We all know that here, so you don’t have to tell us. Why don’t you tell that to your guys? Let’s see you request a boycott from whichever society you belong to.

      • Marnie
        March 24, 2016, 1:20 am

        +1 echi

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 7:47 am

        Echi,
        There are many unethical practices right here in the US. For example, Catholic hospitals not providing adequate women’s health services or the inability to discuss end of life care.

        I believe that the proper response is a discussion, not a boycott. Articles like this raise awareness and bring this to people’s attention.

        I don’t think its a stretch to say that conflict resolution is not your strength.

      • Marnie
        March 24, 2016, 8:59 am

        “Articles like this raise awareness and bring this to people’s attention.”

        Yes that’s true. Articles like this in MW have been bringing this to people’s attention for years. It would seem that conflict resolution isn’t anyone’s strength! It’s been 70 years. Just talking loud and doing nothing. It seems that stating the obvious is your only strength, and that’s not surprising at all. BDS – THE ONLY NONVIOLENT CURE FOR THIS INCREDIBLY VIOLENT EVIL – The Palestinians are better at being Jews than the israelis – huh, what could that mean?

      • Talkback
        March 24, 2016, 9:22 am

        Jon66: “I don’t think its a stretch to say that conflict resolution is not your strength.”

        ROFL, says the Zionist.

      • oldgeezer
        March 24, 2016, 12:09 pm

        @jon66

        There is no universal agreement over those issues you mention jon. There is agreement and acceptance over the provision of medical aid to all who need it based upon medical necessity.

        Israel stands alone in rejecting that and should be expelled from the ICRC as it does not adhere to the accepted ethical standards. Should Israel feel the standards are wrong the onus is on them to begin the discussion. As usual it implements and operates under criminal standards.

      • echinococcus
        March 24, 2016, 3:22 pm

        Jon66,

        Don’t give me that hogwash. This is not just “unethical” practice which its practitioner, by the way, sees as the summum of ethical. Besides, this is supposed to be a foreign association against which the only available means are boycott of common actions and expulsion of double members. My association will be considering both motions –even though it is chock full of reactionaries, a number of decent people are still around.

        This is deliberate murder, committed in plain daylight, full Nazi-style, and there is a boycott against the state that commits these crimes knowingly. It’s a 70-year war, not a cold war, and you cannot pretend to have your heart bleed for the disarmed side while you personally are shooting.

        Your response is not any different than that of the American Psychiatric Association leaders who condoned the practice of torture by some of their highest-placed members.

      • echinococcus
        March 24, 2016, 3:52 pm

        Jon66,

        PS re “conflict resolution”.

        I just can’t be as good at conflict resolution as the Zionists because I can’t really advocate the same relentless policy of total war, theft and genocide against Herrenrasse civilians that they are using to resolve their handmade “conflict”.

        Sure, it’s wussy by Zionist standards, but that’s how us non-tribals were brought up.

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 5:27 pm

        Echi,
        The whole article is a discussion of the practice within the scope of ethics.

        Also, I don’t think that “conflict resolution” means what you think it means. Here’s a more accepted definition, “Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional.”

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 5:30 pm

        Old geezer,
        I agree that aid should be rendered to those needing it, but who is your source? I think reproductive rights are a universal value as well, but that’s just my opinion.

      • echinococcus
        March 24, 2016, 5:42 pm

        Cut the BS, Jon66. You want to play “peaceful conflict resolution” with an illegal, genocidal colonial invader that uses the full might of the US and some against a totally disarmed and enslaved population, eh? And I mean some invader –never a single millimeter in 100 years.

        Well, go climb a tree.

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 6:15 pm

        Echi,

        “totally disarmed and enslaved population”

        Armed forces are not equal, but to describe the Palestinians as disarmed is incorrect.

      • oldgeezer
        March 24, 2016, 6:26 pm

        @jon66

        “I think reproductive rights are a universal value as well, but that’s just my opinion. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/israeli-medics-are-leaving-wounded-palestinians-to-bleed-to-death/#comment-163845

        Actually they are. But as I am sure you are aware there is not universal agreement as to what constitutes reproductive rights. While there are some core elements many other things are recommendations only and some things,such as abortion, are hotly contested I support reproductive rights as well. I also support a woman’s right to abortion for that matter.

        Euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide are even more contentious.

        I woud accuse you of living under a rock but I have no doubt you are merely trying to distract from the crimianl actions of the scumbags in the GoI and Israeli medical system .

      • oldgeezer
        March 24, 2016, 6:57 pm

        @jon66
        “The whole article is a discussion of the practice within the scope of ethics. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/israeli-medics-are-leaving-wounded-palestinians-to-bleed-to-death/#comment-163845

        No it’s not in it’s entirety. It is highlighting more Israeli war crimes, violations of the Geneva Conventions.

        Does it really matter though? Israel is an outlaw state.

      • oldgeezer
        March 24, 2016, 7:17 pm

        @jon66

        “The whole article is a discussion of the practice within the scope of ethics. – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/israeli-medics-are-leaving-wounded-palestinians-to-bleed-to-death/#comment-163845

        If Israel followed international law and lived up to it’s agreements then there wouldn’t be a conflict.

        No conflict resolution isn’t the answer. The Hague and some very lengthy sentences for the leaders of this outlaw group is more appropriate. Including the Rabbis inciting to murder. They can share cells with any similar Immans, Priests/Ministers, etc.

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 9:06 pm

        OG,
        No distraction. This practice is unequivocally unacceptable. I can’t be any clearer.

    • CigarGod
      March 24, 2016, 11:17 am

      I’ll take you at your word. Do you plan on taking action of any kind to address the problem?

      • Jon66
        March 24, 2016, 1:34 pm

        Now that I am aware of it I’ll make those around me aware as well. In addition, I plan to send letters to ICRC and MDA. I have no direct control of what is a failure in the MDA.

      • echinococcus
        March 26, 2016, 3:07 am

        jon66
        Says “I plan to send letters to ICRC and MDA. I have no direct control of what is a failure in the MDA”

        The head of Magen David Adom in Hebron, which is officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that “terrorists should not be permitted to leave the scene alive.”

        http://mondoweiss.net/2016/03/top-israeli-officials-who-issued-directive-to-execute-palestinians-hang-hebron-killer-out-to-dry/#sthash.yPrmidU6.dpuf

        So it appears that he’s partly right: he has no direct control of MDA; it’s the murder organization MDA that has direct control of Jon66.

  7. Marnie
    March 24, 2016, 4:55 am

    Not on topic but just another example of israel bringing a flamethrower to put out a fire: The West Bank is closed to Palestinians for 3 days during Purim, a minor Jewish holiday that also encourages public drunkenness. The one poster to this article asked if it would be closed to Jews as it was during Purim that Baruch Goldstein massacred Palestinians in Hebron.

    IDF closes off West Bank for Purim holiday

    In dramatic but not unprecedented move, Palestinians barred from entering Israel except for special cases, army says

    By Judah Ari Gross March 22, 2016, 4:51 pm

    “Israel will close off the West Bank from Wednesday to Saturday as a preventative measure against attacks during the Jewish holiday of Purim, the IDF announced on Tuesday.

    The closure will begin at 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday and is expected to end at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, the army said.

    Entering and exiting the West Bank will be forbidden for Palestinians during those three days, with the exception of “humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” according to an IDF statement.

    Those special cases will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories.”

    This is not the entire piece, but I choked on these few paragraphs as this article by Dan Cohen demonstrates the israeli “humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases” point of view very clearly. Am expecting additional horror stories of people having heart attacks and dying at the scene, women in labor or from any other medical emergency as IOF refuses to allow an ambulance in to.

    • Stepgold
      March 24, 2016, 9:07 am

      How soon we forget. Dr. Baruch Goldstein the murderer in the Hebron massacre for whom a shrine was built at Kiryat Arba also refused medical assistance for Palestinians. A Brooklyn transplant. A blot on humanity.

  8. Stepgold
    March 24, 2016, 9:08 am

    Nothing new

  9. Boo
    March 24, 2016, 11:51 am

    The principle of medical triage has always been straightforward and has always been devoid of concern for “friends” and “foes”. There are many examples of battlefield medics tending to the wounded of both sides, and these examples do honor to the concept of triage.

    To reiterate the obvious, triage simply categorizes the injured into three groups: those not in need of immediate intervention; those whom no on-the-spot intervention is likely to help; and those who need immediate intervention who can reasonably be expected to benefit from it. These decisions must be made exclusively on medical grounds.

    Any care provider who feels justified in ornamenting this simple, straightforward algorithm with political caveats simply has no business providing care. They should put down their little black bag — pick up a big black gun — and quit being a hypocrite.

    • Jon66
      March 24, 2016, 1:38 pm

      I agree. It’s irrspeonsible to allow politics to be involved. In the U.S. if a criminal is shot by police we do our best to save him regardless of the crime. It should be the same in Israel.

      • Mooser
        March 24, 2016, 8:27 pm

        “It should be the same in Israel”

        Are these incidents taking place “in Israel”?

  10. Vera Gottlieb
    March 24, 2016, 1:01 pm

    How I absolutely LOATH this nation.

  11. Herchel
    March 24, 2016, 9:30 pm

    If palestinians are worried about not getting medical treatment for their gun shot wounds, they should stop stabbing Jews and getting themselves shot.

    • eljay
      March 24, 2016, 11:59 pm

      || Herchel: If palestinians are worried about not getting medical treatment for their gun shot wounds, they should stop stabbing Jews and getting themselves shot. ||

      So…based on your definition of “justice”, non-Jews are entitled to shoot Jewish people who have actually or allegedly committed a crime and then deny them medical treatment or execute them in cold blood. Wow. Why do you Zio-supremacists hate Jews so much?!

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