Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations to lodge a complaint over a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance that allegedly ignored wounded and dead Israelis after a terrorist attack in the West Bank on Friday, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Sunday.
Danny Danon’s complaint to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon comes after Netanyahu said Friday that Israel was prepared to take steps against the Red Crescent Society — a member of the Geneva-based umbrella humanitarian aid organization — for breaching the organization’s mandate to assist all victims of armed conflicts, the Ynet news site reported.
After the shooting attack on Friday that killed Rabbi Yaakov Litman and his 18-year-old son Netanel, the family’s 16-year-old son called Israel’s emergency service to report the attack, and told the Magen David Adom operator that a Red Crescent ambulance happened to be driving by and saw the injured family, but declined to stop and help them.
“There are two wounded here, but we have the Red Crescent with us,” the boy can be heard saying in a recording of the phone call. Then he adds: “The Red Crescent ambulance drove away from us, I don’t know why.”
A statement released by the Red Crescent on Friday evening said its paramedics got out of the vehicle to offer aid to the wounded, but then an Israel Defense Forces ambulance arrived and soldiers emerged with guns drawn. The Red Crescent paramedics then left the scene, the statement said.
But the driver of the Israeli ambulance who responded to the attack disputed the Palestinian account.
“We saw the Red Crescent. They never got out of the vehicle, and they drove away,” he said according to a Channel 10 report on Friday evening.
Erab Fuqaha, a spokeswoman for the organization, told Army Radio Sunday morning that allegations were a “false accusation.”
“Our medics got out, examined the deceased, and helped the wounded. They remained there until the Israeli military ambulance,” she said.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Yoav Mordechai, also sent an inquiry to the Palestinian rescue service, the TV station reported.
An understanding between the Red Crescent and Magen David Adom generally sees the rescue services treat wounded people in their respective territories, and although the attack occurred in a West Bank area under Israeli security control, the Red Crescent is still subject to the regulations of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the umbrella organization describes itself as an “impartial, neutral and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance.”
Palestinian sources on Sunday identified the suspect who was arrested by the Shin Bet security service in connection with Friday’s terror attack as Shadi Matua, a resident of Hebron. Israel says Matua is a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
The suspect made comments during his initial investigation that implicate him in the attack, the Shin Bet said in a statement. He was handed over to Israel by his family, who sought to avoid their house being demolished.