The Nile, occupied by the West Bank – Bassem Sadaqa pointed to a bullet hole in the driver’s door of the ambulance he was driving. The tangible evidence he said indicated that Palestinian medical personnel were often “a frequent target” of the Israeli army.
The father of five lives in Niilin and has worked as a paramedic for the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for 20 years.
“At first I thought the ambulance was hit by a stone until I saw the hole. The shooting was not accidental. The Israeli soldiers were aiming at the ambulance and I was standing near the ambulance. This is not the first time I have driven an ambulance. Become a target.”
On the day of the incident, Sadaka and his Palestinian medical staff stood on the front line, fighting to save lives, and rushed the injured protesters to a hospital half an hour away.
Palestinian villagers protested that Israeli settlers illegally set up another outpost on their village land, resulting in violence and many injuries.
Niilin is an agricultural village with more than 6,000 people, mainly relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, located 17 kilometers (10 miles) west of Ramallah, the main city of the occupied West Bank.
The people there are fighting to prevent the land left by the village from being expropriated by illegal Israeli settlements and outposts that continue to be occupied-they are now surrounded by the illegal Israeli settlements of Nili and Na’ale in the northeast and Modi’in Illit . south.
According to the 1993 Oslo Agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization, 93% of the village’s 15,000 dunums (1,500 hectares) was designated as Zone C—including 60% of the West Bank—and was completely controlled by Israel.
Israel restricts the construction of Palestinians in most areas of Area C and reserves the area for settlement expansion, which is illegal under international law.
‘Increase the use of live ammunition’
On a recent Friday, the main day of the protests in the West Bank, Al Jazeera was accompanied by an ambulance by Ziad Abu Latifa, a 50-year-old paramedic from the Qalandiya refugee camp, and Said, a 40-year-old from the village of al-Midya near Niilin. Suleiman driving.
A settler from a nearby outpost transferred his cattle to graze on Palestinian land, leading to a two-day protest as settler groups invaded the village, set fire to fields, damaged Palestinian vehicles, and hundreds of Palestinians gathered Try to repel them.
One of the injured was the mayor of Niilin, Emad Khawaja, who was shot in the leg by the Israeli army.
“Eleven people were injured by live ammunition on the first day of the conflict and 4 people were injured on the second day. We have noticed that there has been an increase in the use of live ammunition against protesters,” Khawaja told Al Jazeera.
“The bullet will stay on my leg for the rest of my life, because trying to remove it will cause more damage than staying there.”
With the increase in the number of injured, this special ambulance traveled at a very fast speed along the winding narrow road up and down the valley, from Niilin to Ramallah Hospital twice.
Abu Latifa, a paramedic for 5 years, a volunteer in PRCS for 17 years, and father of eight children, told Al Jazeera that although his job is dangerous and stressful, After witnessing it with his own eyes, he felt that he was helping in the best way. The trauma caused to the Palestinians over the years and the lack of quality medical care provided to them.
“While participating in the protests of the first uprising, I broke a bone and was thrown by the side of the road by Israeli soldiers. Then a passing driver took me to the hospital, where I was in a coma for two days,” Abu Latifah Say.
During the first Palestinian uprising from 1987 to 1993, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered Israeli soldiers to break the arms and legs of Palestinians to prevent them from sweeping the occupied West Bank and the West Bank in protest. Throwing stones in Gaza-this move aroused international public outrage.
“This is enough for me to learn to be a paramedic so that I can provide people with first aid and take them to the hospital,” Abu Khalifa said.
“The soldier hit me in the head with the butt of his rifle”
Sadaqa said that during the on-site work, he tried to stay calm, ignore the pressure, and focus on treating patients as much as possible in this situation.
“Another problem we face is that the soldiers refuse to let the ambulance approach the seriously injured or stop the ambulance trying to take the injured to the hospital, and sometimes take our patients away from the ambulance,” he said.
In this experience, he is not alone.
One of Abu Khalifa’s worst experiences was trying to reach a Palestinian protester in the village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. He was shot through his side and shot out of his neck.
When Israeli soldiers suppressed the protesters on the village land, the young man was injured from a distance, but the army prevented the paramedics from approaching the seriously injured young man who later died.
“It is especially difficult to travel at night to pick up patients when there are no people around and no reporters to witness what is happening,” Abu Khalifa said.
“I recently went to the village of Kubar near Ramallah to evacuate a young man who was shot in the leg by a soldier. But when I tried to send him to an ambulance, a soldier used his M-16 butt. Hit me in the head [assault rifle].
“Then I called the dispatcher. After an hour of negotiations with the Israeli liaison office, we were allowed to evacuate the patients.”
As the sun went down, the shift between Abu Khalifa and Suleiman ended, and the ambulance returned to Ramallah with exhausted paramedics. They were satisfied that they had done their best to save lives.