Soldiers tell of assisting Palestinians

Woman soldier tells of airlifting wounded Gazans to Israeli hospitals during IDF Operation Cast Lead.

By
March 26, 2009 21:16
2 minute read.
Soldiers tell of assisting Palestinians

wounded Gazan child 248 88 gpo. (photo credit: GPO)

 
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Descriptions of soldier's units' experiences during Operation Cast Lead are being used to illustrate humane measures which were taken by the army to assist Palestinian civilians during the conflict. The soldiers recorded their testimonies and placed them on a Web site, www.soldiersspeakout.com, as part of an initiative by the Israel education organization StandWithUs. Nina Klevipsky, 24, who served as a supervisor in a Home Front Command medical control room, helped coordinate several airlifts of wounded Palestinian civilians to Israeli hospitals. She told The Jerusalem Post that dozens of Palestinians were evacuated by Israel to hospitals in Beersheba and Rehovot during the 22-day operation. "The minute we learned of a need to evacuate, we prepared the hospitals, the landing pads, and mobilized the doctors. Afterwards, we oversaw continued hospital care for the Palestinians," Klevispsky said. She added that she viewed with skepticism, recent allegations of the targeting of civilians by IDF soldiers. On Wednesday, an IDF source told the Post that the claims had been found to be categorically untrue by official army investigations which would soon be released to the public. "I did not believe a word of these accounts. I know the soldiers who go in. I know how they operate, what values they received at home and in the army. There is no way such orders could have gone out," Klevispsky said. "I have full faith in the army. I do a month of reserves every year. If for a second I thought these were the procedures, I would not show up to serve. I serve in a moral army - my job is to save lives, not harm them," she added. Amir Golan, a 25-year-old medic, had entered Gaza with his reserve Givati unit during the recent Gaza incursion. "I never saw anything like that," Golan told the Post, in reference to the recent allegations. "I was very disappointed by the Israeli media. It pained me that people don't show integrity, because I know that someone examining this from the outside will view this very harshly," he added. Golan said there was never any hostility towards Palestinian civilians among members of his unit. "I think the general spirit was that there we were there to protect our homes from rocket fire. We were highly motivated," he said. "It always hurts when people suffer. It was clear the operation would cause suffering in general, but we hoped that if we could stop the rockets we could end the suffering on both sides," Golan said. Golan is a veteran of Gaza operations, having entered the Strip with his unit in the past. During one counter-terrorism raid in 2005, Golan encountered a pregnant woman inside a home belonging to a wanted terrorist. "We saw a woman who started complaining about a stomach ache. I was ordered by my commander to check her medically," Amir said. "It turned out she was going into labor. I did everything I could in order to help her... for obvious reasons she didn't want to give birth there. She was hoping to get to a Palestinian hospital," he continued. "So what we did was to evacuate our force really fast out of there. And we almost ran away from there," Amir added. "We called [for] a Palestinian ambulance to come as fast as it could and evacuate her," he said. "I pulled some strings and I tried to follow up on the woman. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy."

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