Israeli bus set ablaze in West Bank as ambulance cuts pending

There were no passengers on the bus and the driver was able to safely exit the vehicle.

An Israeli bus burst into flames and was totally destroyed on Route 55 at the Jit junction in the Samaria region on March 24, 2019 (photo credit: HILEL MEIR/TPS)
An Israeli bus burst into flames and was totally destroyed on Route 55 at the Jit junction in the Samaria region on March 24, 2019
(photo credit: HILEL MEIR/TPS)
An Israeli bus burst into flames and was totally destroyed Sunday, just as settler leaders called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to reduce ambulance services to West Bank settlements.
An initial IDF found that the blaze was caused by a technical problem with the motor as the bus traveled on Route 55 at the Jit junction in the Samaria region.
There were no passengers on the bus and the driver was able to safely exit the vehicle.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said the ambulance station next to the junction would be impacted by any potential budget cuts to ambulance services.
“It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could have all ended differently,” he said.
The government has informed the Health Ministry that it plans to cut the 2019 budget for those ambulance services by NIS 5.5 million, Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller said.
MDA had already planned to implement the necessary service cuts on Sunday. YESHA Council head Hananel Dorani and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, however, intervened. They spoke with MDA director-general Eli Bin, after which an agreement was reached that no changes would be made to MADA services for a day or so, to allow for an alternative solution to be found.
“The prime minister must address this issue from Washington,” Dagan said. “To do anything else would be to “disregard human life,’ he added.
The Health Ministry said that for security reasons it provides funds to MDA for its ambulance stations, but that the needs have grown beyond the allotted funds.
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman met with MDA and informed them that their 2018 budget would be fully funded, the Health Ministry said.
It added that the 2019 budget for MDA would be discussed in the coming months, but that it did not expect services to be cut.
Heller said that MDA was already informed that a necessary NIS 5.5 million would not be transferred to it. MDA will continue to operate in West Bank settlements, but with reduced manpower, thereby limiting the amount of service residents can receive, he said.
Dorani said that settler leaders would not be silent on this matter.
“We will do everything in our power to maintain adequate rescue and medical forces in this region to respond to terror attacks, road accidents and everything that this area needs,” he said.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Neeman said that given the sensitive security situation, no one should be allowed to play with people’s lives by failing to provide emergency services.


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