A Israeli teenager wounded in Friday afternoon’s deadly terror attack in the West Bank told the emergency services hotline that a Red Crescent ambulance drove on past him and his dead and injured relatives, despite having seen them.
The recording of the call made by the 16-year-old after his 40-year-old father and 18-year-old were shot dead near the settlement of Otniel was played on Israeli television on Friday night. The boy, his mother and three sisters were evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. The boy suffered shrapnel wounds to his lower body and his mother and sisters were treated for shock.
The father, hit by gunfire, swerved into the opposite lane, where he crashed into rocks by the side of the road. His older son called rescue services but was then also shot dead. The younger brother called Magen David Adom’s hotline to report the attack.
In the recording the boy can be heard saying there are “at least two wounded” with one suffering a head injury. He is then heard to say “there is a Red Crescent ambulance here.” When the operator asks the boy for more details on the wounded, to discern how many ambulances to dispatch to the scene, the boy tells her, “there are two wounded here, but we have the Red Crescent with us.” He then says “the Red Crescent ambulance drove away from us, I don’t know why.”
The operator tells the boy that help is on the way and asks him to confirm the number of the Israeli ambulance that then arrived. “Is it 163?” she asks. He says a different vehicle arrived. The operator recognizes the number: “It’s Negev 197,” she says.
An excerpt from the call:
Caller: About a kilometer from Otniel. They fired on our car.
Operator: Otniel, in which direction?
Caller: Heading south.
Operator: Heading south?
Caller: They’ve reached us… there’s a Red Crescent ambulance, we have two wounded.
Operator: How many wounded in total?
Caller: At least two. There were seven of us in the car.
Operator: There are at least two wounded at the scene? Now, tell me… we are on the way to you.
Caller: No, no, at least two wounded.
Operator: I said, at least two wounded. Where are they wounded?
Caller: Yes, yes
Operator: Where are they wounded? Go over them for me one by one.
Caller: One in the head, one in the head. We have here… we have here Red Crescent.
Operator: That’s absolutely fine.
Caller: One in the head, definitely at least one more… The Red Crescent drove away from us, I don’t know why.
According to Channel 10, Magen David Adom chief Eli Bin has begun to question the Israeli paramedics who were the first responders at the scene. Since most are religiously observant, Bin will only receive clear answers after the end of Shabbat, the station reported.
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Yoav Mordechai, also sent an inquiry to the Palestinian rescue service, Channel 10 reported.
While there is an understanding between the Red Crescent and Magen David Adom that the rescue services treat wounded people in their respective territories and the attack occurred in an area under Israeli security control, the Red Crescent is subject to the mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Based on the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the ICRC declares in its mission that it is 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.”
Late Friday evening, the Red Crescent issued a statement that its paramedics had alighted from the vehicle to offer aid to the wounded, but then an IDF ambulance arrived from which soldiers emerged with guns drawn. The Red Crescent paramedics then left the scene, the statement said.
According to Channel 10, the driver of the Israeli ambulance (Negev 197) arriving at the scene shortly afterwards said: “We saw the Red Crescent. They never alighted from the vehicle, and they drove away.”
COGAT is considering filing a complaint to the ICRC against the Red Crescent in the Palestinian territories over the incident, Channel 10 reported.