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Attacks on Palestinian hospitals are a red line we must not cross

The next time a Palestinian disguises himself as a journalist to attack Israelis, remember that Israelis do similar things.

The next time Palestinians hide weapons in a civilian ambulance, the next time a stabber disguises himself as a journalist, the next time Palestinians shoot rockets from near a United Nations building, remember that officers from Israel’s Yamam (Special Police Unit) disguised themselves as a woman in labor on a wheelchair entering a hospital in Hebron in order to arrest a wounded suspect and kill his relative.

A quick look at the coverage of the event shows that, at least according to the Israeli media, there is nothing problematic about this. Some news outlets even seemed to celebrate the great feat of arresting a wounded person as he lay in a hospital. Only Haaretz decided to provide a response to the event by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which stated: “Time and again Israeli security forces violate the special protection forded to hospitals and medical facilities. By doing so they are putting patients, hospital staff, and visitors at risk.” Ma’ariv, Mako, Walla!, NRG, and Ynet just don’t have the room for such criticism.

But this type of criticism is vital, whether in the context of a continual military occupation, in the context of perpetual attacks against Palestinians on different fronts, or in the context of collective punishment or Palestinian attacks on Israelis. We all have a clear interest that in a reality of bloodshed and fear, there will still be several red lines — a few positions and places that should have immunity.

This should apply, first and foremost, to anything having to do with the medical establishment: doctors, medics, ambulances, clinics and hospitals must not be attacked under any means, and we must not take advantage of them in order to hide weapons or use them as a military base. This goes for either side. The same must go for UN buildings, journalists, and others. The medical world, however, is top priority.

The arrest Wednesday night in Hebron’s Al-Ahly Hospital was a crime against all of our interests. The suspect in a stabbing that took place in Gush Etzion, Azam Azat Shalalda, was not hiding in the hospital — he was merely hospitalized there. And it’s not like he had much a choice.

One can still say that Palestinian fighters have no choice but to function underground and use questionable methods — just as members of the pre-state Jewish militants did when they fought against the British Mandate. On the other hand, the Shin Bet, IDF, and Yamam — who arrested Shalalada in the middle of a hospital in Hebron — could have waited for his release. They could have even raided his home in the middle of the night, as they do basically every night across the West Bank. They are the law, the regime. They have the option of using another way.

Instead they decided to disguise themselves as a pregnant woman and her family, and, as PHR stated, put patients, hospital staff, and visitors at risk. And not just at risk — they killed Shalalda’s uncle, Abdullah, while he was leaving the restroom who, according to the soldiers, “tried to attack them.” Nowhere did I see a claim that Abdullah was armed or posed a real threat to those who killed him. Bottom line: the soldiers dressed up as a patient, barged into the hospital, arrested a wounded man, and shot someone who likely posed no threat. I would be very surprised if anyone is put on trial for this.

The IDF Spokesperson turned my questions over to the Border Police spokesperson. This was their response:

“As the forces entered the room of the terrorist, a relative (and known Hamas member) got up toward the forces and yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ and attacked one of the soldiers while holding an unidentified object. Another soldier that recognized what was happened opened fire and neutralized him.” I asked whether among such a large group of soldiers, not one person could identify the “unidentifiable object.” The response: Abdullah was “neutralized and the soldiers exited.”

That’s it.

So the next time someone tells you Palestinians take advantage of hospitals to shoot rockets, the next time the media decries the cynicism of an enemy who knows no bounds — don’t justify it. Don’t say “who cares.” Just remember we do the exact same thing.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Ron Temis

      Ok, time to shoot a +972 KAPO every time an Israeli is murdered, that will calm the situation, then they won’t ha have to go into a hospital to get the terrorists.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        This is all they’ve got. The sputtering rage of the right wing. They have no other answer. Commenters are getting “Jew hater” flung at them around here like a semi-automatic weapon and now we have one of them openly advocating murder of +972 journalists. Lovely. As sure a sign as anything that they have no answer. As things deteriorate. They only reflect the spirit of the occupation.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Nah Benny we got a lot more than you think. Just keep pushing your lies and you may find that what you wish for is not all that you crack it to be and you may rue the day that you embarked on your propaganda campaign to try to discredit the Jewish nation state which you hate with such a passion because Jews live here.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh please. When you got nothing else you go on an offensiveness offensive and pull out the ant-Semitism card. A cheap trick. Temis here is testimony to bankruptcy and desperation.
            (“Propaganda campaign.” LOL. Good lord. This is a tiny litle commenting forum on a magazine of the left and I am one little commenter. You’d think I had magical powers and am an undercover Romanian KAOS agent out to get Maxwell Smart and his Agent 99 in a world-takeover plot. LoL.)

            EU’s Labeling Policy Is Not anti-Semitism, but
 a Warning
            The government is impervious to warnings from friendly countries, which feel that Israel is losing its place among them.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      It is a crime to knowingly feed, lodge, clothe, arm, equip in whole or in part, harbor, aid, assist or conceal in any manner any person guilty of any felony, or outlaw, or fugitive from justice, or any person seeking to escape arrest for any felony and murderous acts of terrorism committed against innocent civilians.

      Azam Azat Shalaldah belongs to those deranged Islamic zombie-killers who believe that they have the right to butcher innocent civilian Jews with meat cleavers and machetes in the streets of Israel. Azam Azat Shalaldah was on the run from the law after attacking an innocent civilian, whom he has identified as a Jew, with machete. Azam Azat Shalaldah was hiding in an Arab hospital that harbored him, while receiving treatment for the injuries he sustained during the commission of a heinous murderous felony. Azam Azat Shalaldah did have a choice: turn himself in to the law. But he made a different choice: hide from the law. And, whether or not he has a choice is immaterial. Criminals never have a choice.

      Israel has every right to get the hospital and take Azam Azat Shaladah from wherever he was hiding. And Israel did that in the most humane way that caused no damage to innocent bystanders. Other Western countries are not that nice to criminals and those who harbor them.

      Get that right, Mr. Haggai Matar!

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Eis, since you’re such a legal beagle let me ask you. Regarding–

        “It is a crime to knowingly feed, lodge, clothe, arm, equip in whole or in part, harbor, aid, assist or conceal in any manner any person guilty of any felony, or outlaw, or fugitive from justice or any person seeking to escape arrest for any felony and murderous acts of terrorism committed against innocent civilians.”

        –Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon has publicly admitted he knows who murdered the Dawabshe family by burning them alive. But he’s not arresting them. He says he thinks it more important to “protect sources.” Doesn’t that amount to knowingly harboring, assisting, and concealing felonious fugitives from justice or any person seeking to escape arrest for any felony and murderous acts of terrorism committed against innocent civilians? You bet it does. Go get ’em tiger. Ya gonna call for Ya’alon’s arrest? Ya gonna drag him out of a hospital and shoot his uncle if you have to? In the most humane way? You let us know. Why the difference? Why weren’t the killers of the Dawabshe family dragged out of wherever they are hiding? Days the murderers of the Dawabshe family by firebombing remain still at large: 107. Days the Israeli Defense Minister has known their identities but has refused to arrest them: I’m guessing about 105. 103 minimum.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        While we’re on the legal beat, and since you’re lending you’re expertise pro bono here, Eis, what’s your legal analysis of this curious lack of law enforcement and legal action in regards to agricultural terrorism and felonious land takeover? Could you lend us your expertise? I mean it’s puzzling, right? Because as you say, criminals never have a choice. So what gives? I’ve got pencil and legal pad ready to take down every word and absorb the wisdom. >>


        By +972 Blog | November 12, 2015
        Why can’t Palestinians harvest olives in peace?
        Data shows that the police simply cannot prevent Israeli felons from ruining the yearly Palestinian olive harvest.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          You are right about your own insignificance Benny.

          Unfortunately there are many like you who feed each other. Put together many insignificant hateful individuals telling lies often and you people do cause harm.

          How do I know that you are just cheap haters? I know because you stop at nothing in order to perpetrate your lies (for example your denial of the 100 year war by Palestinian Arabs against the idea of a Jewish nation state because they prefer an Arab Muslim state instead of living peacefully side by side). And then you turn everything on it’s head and pretend that our reaction to their war on us is the problem rather than their war on us.

          That’s what haters do Benny. They pour oil on fire and they support those who hate the side that they themselves hate. You are a hater, Benny!

          Reply to Comment