United colors of bandages: Israel’s secret sauce

One outstanding example of this diversity is a partnership between a Jewish Israeli medic who created a revolutionary bandage and a Bedouin Israeli factory owner who employs women to manufacture it.

April 18, 2019 21:47
3 minute read.
A general view of Tel Aviv's skyline is seen through a hotel window in Tel Aviv, Israel May 15, 2017

A general view of Tel Aviv's skyline is seen through a hotel window in Tel Aviv, Israel May 15, 2017.. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Israel was created to fulfill the ancient promise of the Prophet Jeremiah: “Your children will return to their own land” (Jeremiah 31:17). Jews from 130 countries who speak more than 100 different languages have immigrated to Israel. More than 70 years after its founding, Israel is a technological powerhouse, in part because it is one of the most diverse places on the planet, with citizens originating from Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America, and with large numbers of Christians and Muslims, as well.

One outstanding example of this diversity is a partnership between a Jewish Israeli medic who created a revolutionary bandage and a Bedouin Israeli factory owner who employs women to manufacture it.

Bernard Bar-Natan first started thinking about bandages in the 1980s, a few years after he moved to Israel from Brooklyn. When he enlisted in the IDF’s Medical Corps, he was shocked to learn that the army’s standard bandages were made around World War II and had not been modified since then. All the bandages had a pad in the middle and gauze strings on each side, and Bar-Natan was taught to grab a stone and add additional bandages over a wound to quell the flow of blood. Not only were these methods unsanitary, they required medics to carry large numbers of bandages.

After his military discharge, Bar-Natan began tinkering with alternatives and eventually came up with a bandage with a built-in handlebar (a substitute for a stone) that can provide up to 30 pounds of pressure to stanch bleeding, even with traumatic head injuries. He also invented a “reverse wrap” technique to exert more pressure without additional bandages.

By the early 1990s, Bar-Natan had a prototype. With the help of an Israeli government grant and accelerator program, he launched his business, but he lacked a way to mass-produce his Emergency Bandage until he found an unlikely group to help him: Bedouin in the North.

Bar-Natan met Ahmed Heib in 1996. An acquaintance in the garment industry made the introduction, thinking the two could help each other. Bar-Natan needed a manufacturer for his bandage, and Heib owned a factory. Their initial meeting was awkward. On the surface, the two had little in common: Bar-Natan was a cosmopolitan Jew from Brooklyn, while Heib was a Muslim who grew up in a rural backwater, infamous for its crime and gangs.“He didn’t know who this Ahmed guy [was],” Heib says. Bar-Natan seconds Heib’s assessment: “I thought tailors were only called Mr. Cohen,” he jokes.

Heib, with his low-cost business model and deep knowledge of tailoring, turned out to be the perfect partner for Bar-Natan. Heib initially worked with Bar-Natan through his small factory on the first floor of his house in Tuba-Zanghariya, a town of roughly 6,000 – mostly Muslim Bedouin – near the Jordan River.

The more Bar-Natan and Heib worked together, the more they developed a friendship – especially after two of Heib’s children died at birth. “He is a dear brother,” Heib says of Bar-Natan. “He was here and so was his wife, Gila. They were with us in sad times and good times. They were at the weddings of our three daughters.”

As Bar-Natan’s company grew, so did Heib’s business. He expanded his factory to three floors capable of producing millions of bandages a year. All 50 of his employees are women. “I know that if I didn’t have this factory here, these women would not be working,” Heib says. “Their kids would not have much.”

Arij Kabishi, a Druze woman in charge of quality control at Heib’s factory, is grateful for the work and proud of her role. “I feel like I personally took part in the creation of this,” she says, “and [in] saving lives.”

Bar-Natan’s bandage has been a success. Today, the Australian military, the New Zealand military and most NATO countries have adopted it. It’s also standard issue for the IDF and US and British armies. In addition, it is used by emergency responders and in hospitals around the world.

Diversity and innovation go hand in hand, so it should come as no surprise that Israel is producing some of the world’s most groundbreaking technology, or that Israeli innovations like the Emergency Bandage are saving lives and making the world a better place.

The writer is the author of Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World (Gefen Publishing). He is also a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council and The Israel Project.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

May 23, 2019
Hillel's tech corner: DayTwo: Your personal dietitian algorithm