Niilin, occupied West Bank – Bassem Sadaqa factors at a bullet gap lodged within the driver’s door of the ambulance he drives, tangible proof of what he says is a daily prevalence of Palestinian medics being “regularly targeted” by Israeli forces.
The father of 5 lives in Niilin and has been a paramedic with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for 20 years.
“At first I thought the ambulance had been hit by stones until I saw the hole. The shooting wasn’t an accident, the Israeli soldiers were aiming at the ambulance as I was standing right near it. And it also wasn’t the first time ambulances I have driven have been targeted.”
Sadaqa had been on the entrance strains together with his fellow Palestinian medics on the day this occurred, preventing to save lots of lives and speeding wounded protesters to hospitals a half-hour’s drive away.
Palestinian villagers protesting towards the unlawful institution of yet one more Israeli outpost on their village land had been confronted by Israeli settlers, leading to violence and lots of accidents.
Niilin is an agricultural village of greater than 6,000 individuals who largely make their living from farming that lies 17km (10 miles) west of the primary occupied West Bank metropolis of Ramallah.
The folks there are preventing to maintain what land the village has left from being expropriated by ever-encroaching unlawful Israeli settlements and outposts – they’re now surrounded by the unlawful Israeli settlements of Nili and Na’ale within the northeast and Modi’in Illit to the south.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords between the Israeli authorities and the Palestine Liberation Organization, 93 % of the village’s 15,000 dunams (1,500 hectares) was designated as Area C – comprising 60 % of the West Bank – and falls underneath full Israeli management.
Israel restricts Palestinian development in most of Area C and reserves the world for the enlargement of settlements, unlawful underneath worldwide legislation.
‘Increase in the use of live ammunition’
On a current Friday, the primary day of protests within the West Bank, Al Jazeera accompanied an ambulance pushed by paramedics Ziad Abu Latifa, 50, from Qalandiya refugee camp and Said Suleiman, 40, from the village of al-Midya near Niilin.
A settler from a close-by outpost had moved his cattle to graze on Palestinian land, main to 2 days of protests as teams of settlers invaded the village, set fireplace to fields, and broken Palestinian automobiles and a whole lot of Palestinians gathered to attempt to repel them.
One of these wounded was Niilin Mayor Emad Khawaja, who was shot within the leg by Israeli troops.
“Eleven people were wounded by live bullets on the first day and four on the second day of clashes. We have noticed an increase in the use of live ammunition against protesters recently,” Khawaja instructed Al Jazeera.
“The bullet will remain in my leg for life because trying to remove it would cause more damage than it remaining there.”
As the variety of accidents rose, this explicit ambulance hurtled at breakneck velocity alongside the winding, slim roads up hills and down valleys, making two journeys from Niilin to Ramallah Hospital and again.
Abu Latifa, a paramedic for 5 years, volunteer with the PRCS for 17 years, and father of eight, instructed Al Jazeera that though his job was harmful and annoying, he felt he was serving to the easiest way he may after witnessing first-hand the injuries inflicted on Palestinians via the years and the dearth of high quality medical remedy afforded to them.
“While taking part in protests in the first Intifada I had bones broken and was dumped at the side of the road by Israeli soldiers before a passing motorist took me to hospital where I was unconscious for two days,” stated Abu Latifa.
During the primary Palestinian Intifada from 1987 to 1993, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered Israeli troopers to interrupt the legs and arms of Palestinians as a manner of stopping them from throwing stones as protests swept throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza – a move that provoked worldwide outrage.
“This was sufficient motivation for me to go and study to be a paramedic in order to be able to give people first aid and transport them to hospital,” stated Abu Khalifa.
‘Soldier hit me in the head with the butt of his rifle’
Sadaqa stated throughout his time within the area he tries to remain calm, ignore the stress, and concentrate on treating his sufferers in addition to he can within the circumstances.
“One of the other problems we face is the soldiers refusing to allow the ambulances to approach those seriously wounded or stopping ambulances that are trying to evacuate the injured to hospital, and sometimes removing our patients from the ambulance,” he stated.
He just isn’t alone in that have.
One of Abu Khalifa’s worst experiences was trying to reach a Palestinian protester within the village of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, who had been shot with the bullet going via his aspect and exiting his neck.
The younger man had been wounded from a distance as Israeli troopers cracked down on protesters on village land, however the troops prevented the paramedics from approaching the critically wounded youth who subsequently died.
“It’s especially difficult travelling at night to fetch patients when nobody is around and no journalists are on the ground to witness what is happening,” stated Abu Khalifa.
“I not too long ago travelled to Kubar village, near Ramallah, to evacuate a younger man who had been shot within the leg by troopers. But as I attempted to place him in an ambulance a soldier hit me within the head with the butt of his M-16 [assault rifle].
“I then phoned dispatch and after an hour of negotiations with the Israeli liaison office we were allowed to evacuate the patient.”
As the solar set and Abu Khalifa and Suleiman’s shift ended, the ambulance returned to Ramallah with the exhausted paramedics, happy they’d accomplished the perfect they might to save lots of lives.