(photo credit: Reuters)
Israeli and Palestinian officials held a meeting in Hebron this week, the first
of its kind, to improve joint coordination in responding to civilian emergencies
such as fires and accidents, and to figure out ways to protect the local
The understandings reached by the participants
found expression already on Thursday, when two Palestinian bulldozers joined
Israeli bulldozers in clearing routes 36 and 60 after a heavy snow storm blocked
the two roads that serve Palestinian and Israeli drivers.
held at the IDF’s Hebron District Coordination and Liaison Administration, saw
representatives from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, Palestinian
security forces, civilian firefighters from the Israel Fire and Rescue Service
and their Palestinian counterparts attend.
“We left politics aside, and
focused on rescue and the saving lives, which comes before everything,” a source
from the Hebron District Coordination and Liaison Administration told The
“We’re coordinating on aspects such as the
clearing of roads [in the Hebron area] in the event of floods, and joint
firefighting efforts. Fires know no borders.”
“This meeting occurred
because of a convergence of interests. I hope we won’t have to, but if
necessary, we should be ready to coordinate with one another and take advantage
of the goodwill between the sides as it exists today,” the source said, adding
that the meeting was marked by a positive atmosphere from both
Lt.-Col. Shimon Peretz, deputy commander of the Judea Brigade,
attending the unusual meeting, told the Post
that the understandings reached
with the Palestinians would come into effect in both Hebron “and the whole of
Nature reserves, protected by the Israel Nature and Parks
Authority, will also benefit from the understanding, he said.
belongs to us all, and we have the duty to prevent harm to it.
fires that break out can be put out more quickly; through a joint effort,”
“Fires that break out near the security fence travel in both
directions. We had fire crews from both sides talk about how to divide
their efforts between them. We discussed responses to floods, and rescue
missions,” he added.
“If there’s a deadly accident in our area, Israeli
ambulances race to the scene, and transfer [Palestinian] wounded to the Red
Crescent, or alternatively, they’ll be evacuated to Israeli hospitals,” Peretz
“My vision is that in nature reserves, such as the Suba
Forest, we work together, and educate children on how to guard the
In an Internet forum, Hamas has in recent days attempted to
use the meeting to embarrass the Palestinian Authority’s security forces by
presenting them as overly “compliant” with the IDF.
The army source
dismissed such rhetoric, saying, “This coordination is mutually beneficial to
both sides. It’s about saving the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. When
firefighters are cutting out a trapped motorists after an accident, such
understandings will help keep people alive.”