(photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM JERUSALEM)
For budgetary reasons Magen David Adom plans to close eight ambulance stations in Judea and Samaria for the month of December, according to a letter it sent to the Health Ministry.
The letter, portions of which were shown to The Jerusalem Post was also sent to relevant council and regional council heads in Judea and Samaria.
Ambulance service will be lost in the area of the settlements of Shaked, Beit Aryeh, Shavei Shomron, Alfei Menashe, Ariel, Dolev, Megilot and Tekoa.
MDA also intends to reduce the hours of service at three other stations, according to the document. This includes the settlements of Givat Ze’ev and Betar Illit as well as an ambulance station in the Jordan Valley.
As part of the budgetary measures MDA will close three stations along the northern border, including in Metula, for the month of December, according to the document.
Shlomo Vaknin who is in charge of security for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said that MDA only operates 12 ambulance stations in the West Bank so the budgetary cutbacks impacts all of Judea and Samaria.
These stations are fully equipped to handle all emergency calls and operate 24 hours a day, Vaknin said, adding that there are some 60 locally owned ambulances stationed throughout Judea and Samaria manned by volunteer crews. These vehicles, however, do not operate 24 hours a day and are not fully equipped for all emergencies.
Beit Aryeh Council head Avi Naim told Army Radio that these ambulances were particularly important because there were no hospitals in Judea and Samaria. He added that such service was particularly important given the renewed violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
“Only a blind person would fail to see the deteriorating security situation in Judea and Samaria,” he said.
MDA said the government had promised it NIS 10 million in 2014 for ambulance stations in Judea and Samaria as well as along the northern border. But to date it had received only half that sum.
Without the additional NIS 5 million MDA does not have the funds to continue to operate most of its stations in Judea and Samaria, it said.
“Due to this partial funding from the government, and in contrast to the agreed upon funding, for operating the MDA stations in Judea & Samaria and in the northern border, MDA is forced to reduce the volume of activity in these areas due to the costs of operation,” it said.
The payment was months overdue and MDA had been making up the gap but was no longer able to do so.
“We again ask the parties responsible to make the necessary payment of funds as per the agreed financial commitment by the end of this year and for years to come,” it said.
A Health Ministry spokeswoman, however, said it provided MDA with funds based on the budget and was negotiating with the organization over payment for additional costs. These type of negotiations occur each year and a solution is always found, the spokeswoman said.