PM demands probe of Red Crescent for ignoring Israeli terror victims

Wounded teen in Friday West Bank shooting attack told emergency hotline: ‘They’re leaving us, I don’t know why’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative image of Palestinian Red Crescent workers (Nati Shohat /Flash90)
Illustrative image of Palestinian Red Crescent workers (Nati Shohat /Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday demanded an explanation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as to why a Palestinian ambulance ignored wounded Israelis left for dead by terrorists who opened fire on the Litman family on Friday afternoon.

The prime minister said Israel was prepared to take sanctions against the Red Crescent Society, a member of the Geneva-based umbrella humanitarian aid organization, for abandoning the ICRC mandate to assist all victims of armed conflicts, the Ynet news site reported.

After the shooting attack on Friday that killed Rabbi Ya’akov 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 Friday evening said its paramedics got out of the vehicle to offer aid to the wounded, but then an IDF ambulance arrived and soldiers emerged with guns drawn. The Red Crescent paramedics then left the scene, the statement said.

Rabbi Ya'akov Litman, who was killed in a terror attack near the West Bank city of Hebron on November 13, 2015. (screen shot: Channel 2)
Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, who was killed in a terror attack near the West Bank city of Hebron on November 13, 2015. (screen shot: Channel 2)

However, the driver of the Israeli ambulance responding to the scene 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 report on Channel 10 Friday evening.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 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 while the attack occurred in a West Bank area under Israeli security control, the Red Crescent is still subject to ICRC regulations.

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.”

On Friday afternoon, Ya’akov Litman was hit by gunfire while driving on Route 60 and swerved into the opposite lane, where he crashed into rocks by the side of road near the West Bank settlement of Otniel. Netanel tried to call rescue services but was then also shot dead by the gunmen.

Other family members traveling in the car — the mother, a 16-year-old boy and three young girls aged 11, 9 and 5 — were all lightly wounded, suffering mostly from bruises and shrapnel injuries.

The family was driving to an event to celebrate their daughter’s upcoming wedding.

The father and son were laid to rest Saturday night in Jerusalem.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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