Friday, November 26, 2010

180,000 Palestinians Treated in Israeli Hospitals This Year

Tamara Shavit IDF

Thanks to efficient cooperation between the Israeli and the Palestinian
sides, tens of thousands of Palestinians patients benefit from treatments in
Israeli hospitals each year

Humanitarian dilemmas are a recurring issue in the Judea and Samaria region.
A terrorist fires at IDF soldiers, is shot and gets wounded. Is an IDF medic
to be called to treat him? A building is about to collapse in the heart of
Ramallah. Does the IDF enter? Does it jeopardize its soldiers lives, or
does it call the International Red Cross and risk losing precious time? To Israel, the answer to these questions is clear. According to Division
Medical Officer, Lt. Col. Michael Kassirer, The treatment of the
Palestinian population is first and foremost a moral and professional
obligation for every one of us. Do we treat them? There is no question
about it. But what happens in the long run and how? Where do international
organizations fit in? How will an independent Palestinian medical body be
established and how does coordination between bodies happen in life? These
are the real questions.

In order to start answering these questions, a special conference on the
topic of humanitarian medicine was held on Monday (Nov. 22), at Hadassah
Medical Center at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem. Commanders and medics attended
in order to speak and learn, from the most senior, IDF Chief Medical Officer
and the Commander of Judea and Samaria Division, to the 19-year-old
paramedics serving with the battalions in the region.

Up until September 2000, a Ramallah resident could have taken his car and
driven to Ichilov Hospital [in Israel], began Commander of Judea and
Samaria Division, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon. But from September 2000 weve
been in a state of terror. Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians
alike. The battles took place in the heart of the cities, in places where
enemies stood side by side with civilians, with difficult conditions and
limited ability to evacuate. We could not practice medicine beyond the
minimum. In those days, we were on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.

But today, he says, the situation is different. Thanks to many efforts on
both sides, stability has been restored. The political leadership is able
to make decisions not in the context of buses exploding. And now, along with
direct military activity patrolling, arrests, crossings we are starting
a new kind of routine. Medicine is an integral part of it. In todays
reality, we are obligated to do a lot more than the minimum. Our addressing
of the situation should be as wide ranging as possible, said Brig. Gen.

Thanks to the involvement of the director: the successes are numerous

Among the Israeli voices heard speaking, a different accent rang out every
now and then. Palestinian doctors and coordinators also came to Hadassah in
order to represent their side of the story. Among them was Dr. Tawfik Nasr,
Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and coordinator of
all hospitals in East Jerusalem. I prepared an academic lecture, he said
apologetically with a smile, so forgive me if there is not much politics in

And indeed, we've come to talk about medicine. The Palestinian security
system is composed of two centers: that of the Palestinian government and
that of international organizations. It is unclear whether it could function
if it was based on just one. In the sector, 25 hospitals from the Health
Ministry and 30 hospitals from various organizations are operated. Along
with patients treated in these hospitals, there are many people who can only
be treated in hospitals outside the sector, starting with those located in
East Jerusalem.

The major challenge for medical service is accessibility, he explains. As
the Division Commander said, the days when one could drive freely to Ichilov
are over. We face difficulties in transferring patients, personnel and
medical equipment. In too many cases moving freely is not possible. But
despite these difficulties, there are also many successes. He cites as an
example of patients coming from Gaza, treated in Jerusalem sometimes over a
period of three to four months. They receive a special permit from the
director allowing them to stay in Israel so they won�t have to go back and
forth and are housed in a special hotel in the Mount of Olives. All these
things are ultimately coordinated by the Israeli Civil Administration.
Therefore I want to take this opportunity to thank you. It is particularly
important for me to express my deep gratitude to Dalia, who is responsible
for organizing everything.

In the end of the day you know that you saved lives

Dalias full name is Dalia Basa, medical coordinator of the Civil
Administration. In reality, she is the link to everyone who deals with
medicine in the territories. In today's lectures, her name has been
mentioned repeatedly, always with respect. In an interview with IDF website,
she says pleasantly, A bond of mutual trust has been created between us. I
always tell them the truth. When the Palestinians don't do what they're
required, I don't ignore their behavior; but with that, I will always
listen. I hear them. I understand their problems.

The work is twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There will always be
medical incidents. Health is not something one can impose a curfew on or
demand to freeze. I am available around the clock. Even on Shabbat, even at
3 a.m. if needed. There is a constant contact between me and the doctors on
both sides, the ambulance drivers and the patients themselves.

And, unbelievable though it may sound, because of desire and will, it is
working. Last year, 180,000 Palestinian citizens entered Israel to receive
treatment. 3,000 emergency patients were transferred from Israeli to
Palestinian ambulances using the back to back method, without warning.
Ultimately, this is a rewarding experience. There is frustration, of course
there is. But on the other hand, there are people who see me on the street
or in hospitals, hear my name and say You saved my sons life. When you
get home in the end of the day and examine your life, you know that you
saved lives. You know you did a lot of good.
Guest Comment: Well, so much for all the lies that Israel treats Arabs inhumanely... Don

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