US EMTs serving with the PRCS, Brian Spina (left) and Brian Dominick |
Palestine Red Crescent Society - Current Developments
Bethlehem: May 23, 2002. At 7:30 pm hours, an ambulance team from Ramallah was transporting a patient to Bethlehem at the Gilo checkpoint just outside Bethlehem. The team was stopped and the ambulance was searched. At this point, the ambulance had already received clearance at two previous checkpoints.
The Israeli army forced the 3 EMT's - Majdi Srouji, Bassam Hassen, and Brian Spina (U.S. volunteer medic) out of the ambulance. They were made to stand by the side of the ambulance while the Israeli soldiers pointed their assault rifles at the medics for several minutes. The soldiers forced the patient and his wife to exit the ambulance as well. Then they had one of the medics remove all the equipment and most of the supplies from the ambulance. They examined the contents by making the medics open the oxygen cylinder, and discharging the fire extinguisher. During their search of the ambulance, the soldiers also destroyed some of the supplies. The EMT's were made to move away from the ambulance and the Israeli soldiers took their photographs (two of the other EMT's have previously been detained and photos taken in an earlier incident).
The army searched the patient by the side of the road, and then they removed him to an undisclosed location. The EMT's were finally released after being detained for several hours; they returned to the Ramallah station at 11:00 p.m.
Ramallah 23/05/2002 At 21:00 hrs -- At the checkpoint in front of the Bet El settlement entrance gate, Israeli soldiers stopped a PRCS ambulance operated by three EMTs, while returning from discharging a patient. The soldiers checked the medics' IDs, inspected the vehicle for the 4th time that night, and then told the crew to wait while they disappeared with the driver's identification. After waiting half an hour, the ambulance received notice from PRCS Headquarters that there was a call for a woman in labor, but the ambulance remained in detention. The patient's family drove her to a spot approximately 300 meters from the checkpoint, but did not approach for fear of being targeted.
After waiting one hour, the EMT/driver, Sufian Qoraen, was physically searched, handcuffed and detained. Red Crescent EMT Ahlam Nasser and American EMT Brian Dominick were hesitant to leave without their crewmate and driver, but the only other "available" ambulance was the one still returning from detention at Bethlehem. Ahlam and Dominick were forced to drive the ambulance to pick up the patient. The ambulance was again searched at every checkpoint on the way to the hospital. At the third army post station between Bet El settlement and Ramallah, after more than half an hour of Sufian's detention, the soldiers who had detained him caught up with the ambulance and returned Sufian to his crew. When he emerged from their armored jeep, Sufian's head was covered with his own jacket used as a hood. The handcuffs(plastic) had dug deep grooves into his wrists, but he was otherwise uninjured. The expectant mother was transported safely to the hospital to have her baby without further incident.
For more info and news from US EMTs and street medics in occupied Palestine, visit Street Medics in Palestine.