MDA to continue defying rock-throwers in east Jerusalem

‘We’ll continue to take care of people who need it,’ says paramedic; All of the organization’s ambulances in e. J'lem are reinforced against rocks, those that enter deep into Arab villages are armored.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
November 8, 2010 02:22
1 minute read.
Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance

MDA 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Rocks thrown in east Jerusalem are a job hazard for Magen David Adom paramedics, but that won’t stop them from entering some of the most dangerous parts of the city – often to care for injured Arabs.

On Saturday night, youths from Issawiya stood on a cliff overlooking the old highway from Ma’aleh Adumim to French Hill and threw rocks at two ambulances and a car. Inside one of the ambulances was an Arab from the village of Eizariya (Bethany), who was in serious condition after falling five stories from a building.

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“If I had been going faster, [the rocks] would have caused even more damage,” said Hagai Bar-Tov, a 13-year veteran of MDA, who was driving the ambulance, which was hit by five or six projectiles and had its windshield smashed before delivering the injured man to Hadassah University Hospital in Ein Kerem with several broken bones.

“It’s not a nice feeling, but we won’t stop,” Bar-Tov said. “We’ll continue to take care of people who need it.”

It was not the first time an MDA ambulance was stoned, although it was the first time that rocks caused significant damage. All of the organization’s ambulances in east Jerusalem are reinforced against rocks, and those that enter deep into Arab villages are armored.

The rock-throwers “don’t take into consideration who’s inside the ambulance,” said MDA spokesman Danny Rottenberg. “The thing that means something to them is the sign, the red Star of David that is on the ambulances. That’s how we see it – there’s no Jewish symbol on fire trucks or police cars, but there's a target right on our backs.”

According to Rottenberg, MDA will continue to operate in all areas, although he expects the locations where ambulance crews require escort by Border Police to increase.

“As with any emergency service in any place, the first thing is always safety,” he said. “The moment there’s a problem with security, we get out of there. But there’s nothing we can do; these are the conditions.”

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