The news out of Paris has pushed the dreadful murder of Rabbi Yacov Litman and his son Netanel out of the headlines these past few days, but there is one very important detail that must not be ignored.
We are talking about the role played by the Red Crescent – or rather the role that was NOT played – during the attack. One of the Litman sons called the security forces for help, and mentioned that a Red Crescent ambulance was approaching, but that they drove on instead of stopping to give assistance, as required by international law:
“We are about a kilometer after Otniel – they shot at our car,” he said.
When the operator asked him “in what direction?” he responded: “Heading south. There is a (Palestinian) Red Crescent ambulance here, we have two casualties. There are seven of us in the car.”
The operator then asked him to clarify the condition of the wounded. “One is wounded in the head,” he answered, at which point his attention was distracted and he broke off – apparently due to the fact that the Palestinian ambulance he had spotted sped away instead of attempting to aid the wounded.
“There is a Red Crescent ambulance here, but he’s driving away from us – I don’t know why,” the teen said.
“I want you to give me details,” the operator responded. “We are dispatching forces and in the meantime I want to know if they will be enough.”
You can listen to the sound recording of the boy’s emergency phone call (in Hebrew) at the link.
Noa Litman, widow of the murdered Rabbi Yacov Hy’d, recounted the traumatic event:
Noa Litman, the widow of Rabbi Yaakov Litman and mother of Netanel Litman, both of whom were murdered in a shooting attack south of Hevron Friday, described acts of heroism performed by her husband and children as a merciless Arab terrorist opened fired on them as they headed to a celebration of the upcoming wedding of their daughter.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Noa Litman said that the family left their home in Kiryat Arba, on the way to their prospective in-laws in Meitar, a suburb of Beersheva. “At a curve in the road they started shooting at us,” she said. “Our car was stuck on the side of the road, but the terrorist came out to the middle of the road and continued firing at us from the front. The first bullet struck my husband Yaakov. Netanel was driving, and Dvir, my other son, screamed ‘save Aba! save Aba!’ But Yaakov did not answer back – that’s when I realized he was no longer alive.”
Netanel, who was still alive, managed to get a call into rescue services, said Noa Litman. “It was too noisy on the phone so he opened the car door to get a more quiet spot, and that’s when the terrorist shot him. He fell down. Dvir still had a phone and he called for help, clearly telling authorities where we were and that two people had been killed.”
At that moment, she said, a Red Crescent ambulance passed by, and Noa Litman flagged it down. “But they refused to do anything. All they did was tell use to call Magen David Adom and they drove on. Dvir told them that there were injured people, but they told him in English to call the emergency phone number 101 and they left.”
In the wake of this disgraceful and criminal conduct, Binyamin Netanyahu has “declared war” on the Red Crescent:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the foreign ministry to lodge a stern complaint with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, under whose auspices the Red Crescent operates, demanding an explanation as to why the Palestinian ambulance ignored Israeli victims, contrary to all humanitarian and ethical practices.
A foreign ministry source told Arutz Sheva that “Israel will enact all necessary sanctions against the Red Crescent.”
Netanyahu himself related to the incident in question this evening, during a press conference in which he condemned the terror attacks by ISIS in Paris.
“There was an incident yesterday, which appears to be very serious. The matter relates to an ambulance of the Red Crescent, which appears to have passed by the Litman family – (passed) by its dead and injured – and did not approach to give treatment.
Netanyahu further noted that “no such thing” had ever occurred with Israeli emergency services “who provide aid without distinction to Jews, to Arabs, to everyone.”
He added that if it became clear the incident was intentional, Israel will not remain silent and will use all the tools at its disposal against the Red Crescent.
Security sources say this is far from the first such incident. Red Crescent ambulances and other Palestinian medics have regularly ignored Israeli victims in need of treatment, in what appears to be a matter of policy.
In a deadly stabbing in October, which occurred right outside a Palestinian medical clinic in Jerusalem’s Old City, Arab doctors and medics simply stood by while the Jewish victims bled to death, and as other Arab passersby abused the wife of one of the victims as she attempted to escape with a knife still embedded in her back.
The Times of Israel makes note of the obligations of the Red Crescent towards Israelis and others:
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.”
As was to be expected, the Palestinian Red Crescent denied all the allegations:
A Channel 10 report on Friday featured the audio of the distress call placed by one of the gunshot victims, a 16-year-old boy, who said that he saw a Red Crescent ambulance driving away from the scene.
In response to the claims, the Red Crescent issued a denial on its web site late Friday, accusing Gendelman of “disseminating falsehoods and rumors.”
The organization said that its ambulance did in fact reach the scene initially after the shooting.
“A few minutes later, ambulances belonging to the IDF and Magen David Adom arrived,” the organization said. “Once the paramedics approached the victims, they revealed they were carrying weapons,” which prompted the Palestinian first responders to leave.
“In light of the fact that Israeli paramedics arrived on the scene and began treating the wounded, the Red Crescent team left the scene, which had become unsafe in their view,” the statement read.
That is the most self-serving statement I have read in a long time. It is not clear whether the Red Crescent implied that the victims were carrying weapons, but even if they were, they were obviously wounded and incapacitated, and they should have offered first aid anyway. Secondly, Israeli Magen David Adom regularly comes under fire from Palestinians – even from the people they are trying to help! And this does not prevent them from carrying out their duty.
Even more outrageously, the International Red Cross came to the defence of the Red Crescent, saying they acted impartially:
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Tuesday rejected allegations that a Palestinian Red Crescent was at the scene of last Friday’s shooting attack near Hevron but the paramedics did not treat the wounded Israelis and fled the scene.
In a statement on its website, the ICRC said that the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) had “immediately provided factual accounts, firmly rejected these allegations, and unequivocally reaffirmed its commitment to impartial response” to the attack.
“The PRCS’ record of principled and strictly humanitarian action is uncontested and well recognized. The ICRC assessment is that the PRCS operates with professionalism and in full respect of the principles of the RCRC movement, including impartiality. Any question and concern that may require clarification or correction is examined and addressed accordingly, without complacency, by the ICRC, with the national societies, and addressed directly with the concerned authorities,” added the statement.
The head of the ICRC also called Friday’s attack, in which Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son were murdered, “tragic and unacceptable”, adding that “deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians, by whoever, can never be justified.”
We should not be surprised by the rapid defence of the Red Crescent by the Red Cross. Their animus towards Magen David Adom, and towards Israel in general, is well-documented. This does not make their defence of this disgraceful behaviour any less egregious.
If you wish to register your complaint with the Red Cross here are a couple of email addresses to help you:
- The head of the International Red Cross in our region, Jacques de Maio – firstname.lastname@example.org
- His deputy, Ms. Graciella Lopez: email@example.com
To end this post on a slightly more cheerful note: the daughter of Rabbi Yacov and Noa Litman was due to have been married yesterday (Tuesday) but instead she is sitting shiva.
But Sarah and her fiance Ariel Biegel will not stay beaten. They announced that their wedding will be taking place next week, on Thursday 26th November, at the Binyanei Ha’Uma in Jerusalem – and that all of Israel are invited to come along and join in the celebration, so that our enemies shall not rejoice at our fall.
Here is the translated text of the Hebrew invitation:
“Don’t make our enemies happy. We fell, we got up, with G-d’s help, our wedding will take place next Thursday, 26 November, 14 Kislev, at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem. Am Yisrael is invited to get up from the dust and rejoice with us….
Sarah Techiya and Ariel”
What an amazing couple, both from wonderful and strong families. What strength of character and what courage it must have taken to issue this invitation!
I’m sure we will all be taking part in their celebration, in spirit if not in actual attendance, in order to build a new home in Israel and in order to reaffirm what Rabbi Yacov Litman would have wanted for his daughter.
!יהי רצון שיזכו לבנות בית נאמן בישראל. ושיהיה במזל טוב