Sunday, August 31, 2014

Drawing Red Lines for Israeli Doctors

Israeli doctors have been working incredibly hard over the last 50+ days - in addition to the regular work they have, hundreds of additional patients, mostly soldiers, were brought in for treatment. More, the number of traffic accidents, a sign of the stress within Israeli society in general, have increased significantly over the weeks of the war.

Plus, regularly, they are called upon to treat non-Israelis - Syrians who are injured and brought to the field hospital we have set up; Palestinians who know the treatment they get in Israel far exceeds anything they'll get in any Palestinian/Arab hospital pretty much anywhere in the Arab world, certainly in Gaza. Sure, we've been at war since 1948, but that hasn't stopped Palestinians from getting (and demanding) that our doctors treat them - and they do - with the latest discoveries, with honor, with determination, with dedication.

Israeli doctors have treated Abu Mazen's wife, Ismail Haniyah's grandchild. The former Prime Minister of the PA, and thousands of sick Palestinian children needing emergency treatment, heart surgery, and more.

And it isn't just our doctors but our entire medical community. My children were asked if they have any problem treating anyone - including Arabs - when they volunteered to join the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

One doctor in Petach Tikvah was operating on a Palestinian girl when there was a siren. He refused to leave the operating room to seek safety and so the operation continued, despite the fact that Hamas was firing at his city. It is not for me to draw the line where they place their own personal safety above their patient but for all those who ignorantly accuse Israel of being apartheid, this is a living example of how Israelis offer aid without regard to race, ideological belief, age, religion, or the color of a person's skin.

As the fighting ended, Ismail Haniyeh, "disputed" prime minister of the Palestinians (who was elected with an overwhelming majority of the Gaza residents), crawled out of his bunker located deep under a hospital, to announce victory. News reports shortly after reported that he had been rushed to the upper floors of the hospital after suffering a heart attack.

One friend responded, "oh, does he have a heart?" Not that I've seen. He certainly lacks courage given that he spent the last 50+ days in hiding. To the comment about him having a heart attack, I responded that I think it more likely that he was rushed to the hospital suffering from the Bends, a condition associated with rising too quickly from the depths - usually water. In some cases, the Bends can result in death, said one site I checked on the Internet.

And that's when I thought of Israel's doctors and emergency medical responders. They are given clear instructions. The second an injured terrorist is disarmed, he is to be treated as any other person - injured and in need of assistance. My sons have treated many Arabs as part of their volunteer work for the  ambulance service.

I'm grateful that they have never been called upon to treat a terrorist - not because I don't think they would, but because I doubt few other societies would ask this of their young. What I can tell you, without shame or regret, is that the terrorist, once disarmed, is likely to be treated after the victims are removed, especially if the damage done to the terrorist is relatively minor.

I said before that it is not for me to draw the line of where doctors treat patients who became patients as a result of causing injury to others. I can't draw the line in this next hypothetical case either but seriously, if the Palestinians were to ask us to treat Haniyah - no, just no.

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