Testimony: Settlers throw rocks at ambulance transporting patient while soldiers stand idly by, Hebron, April '09

Mediha Abu Haikal, 70

Mediha Abu Haikal

Our house lies right next to the Tel Rumeida settlement. For years, I've had heart, diabetes, and blood pressure problems. Every day, I take eleven different kinds of medication. Because of my health, I go to medical clinics and hospitals a lot.

Last Wednesday [8 April], I had edema in my legs and they turned blue, because of the diabetes. A Red Crescent ambulance took me from my house to the government clinic. After I was examined there, the ambulance took me to Aliyah Hospital for further examination. The physician who usually treats me, Dr. Ibrahim al-Hur, wasn't in the hospital, and I was told I could make an appointment to see him at his private clinic in the city. I made an appointment for 11 April. I preferred not to go back home in the meantime, because it's so difficult to get in and out of the neighborhood and because of my health problems. I stayed at my nephew's house.

On Saturday [11 April], at around 10:00 A.M., I went to the doctor's office. He examined me, gave me new medications, and calmed me down. My daughter, Hanaa, went with me. After seeing the doctor, I decided to go home. I called the Red Cross, which called the Civil Administration to coordinate my return home by ambulance. Then my daughter and I went to the Red Crescent Medical Center, in H-1 [the part of Hebron under Palestinian control], to get into the ambulance that would take me home. The medical team was waiting, and Hanaa and I were told to get into the ambulance. The driver was Shaher Mujahed and the paramedic was Ahmad Makhamrah.

When we got to the checkpoint at Gross Square, the soldier at the checkpoint made a telephone call and then let us pass. The ambulance drove along a-Shuhada Street to get to our house. When we passed by the gate of the army base, a soldier stopped us and spoke with the driver. He asked him why he was riding on this road. The driver explained that we had coordinated the trip with the Red Cross, and that the soldier at Gross Square let us pass, but the soldier didn't let us continue on our way. He looked angry and told the driver to turn around.

The rock that the child threw into the ambulance. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, 12 April ’09.
The rock that the child threw into the ambulance. Photo: Musa Abu Hashhash, 12 April '09.

In the meantime, while the driver was preparing to turn around, I saw a child, who looked about twelve years old, and was dressed in white, was wearing a skullcap and had long, curly hair. He opened the door on the driver's side and slammed it shut. Then he bent over and picked up a big rock. I was afraid he would throw it at us, and my daughter began to shout and asked the driver to get going quickly, before the child throws the rock at us. The soldier was still standing on the side of the ambulance, and put his hand on the window. Then the child threw the rock at the rear door of the ambulance, breaking the window, and it fell on the bed inside the ambulance. It weighed about three kilograms. Luckily, Hanaa and I were sitting on the seat and were not injured, but small pieces of glass scattered on my clothes. I began to shake in fear and to cry. I shouted and then I was just too overwhelmed to speak. My daughter and the paramedic tried to calm me. As they did that, another rock, a small one, flew into the ambulance, landing near the big rock. This one, too, didn't hit me. The soldier standing next to us did not stop the child from throwing the stones, and let him run away. He didn't do anything.

The driver immediately turned around and drove back to Gross Square. The soldier who had let us cross was still there. The driver told me that he asked why we had returned. While the soldier was speaking with the driver, I saw more than thirty children run toward the ambulance. The children began to throw stones at the ambulance and some of them hit it. My daughter identified, among the children, the child who had attacked us previously. I heard the soldier shout at the children, and the paramedic quickly got out of the ambulance, opened the gate, and we passed.

The ambulance returned to the medical center. I was in shock and didn't stop crying, even when we got there. The paramedics hooked me up to oxygen. Afterwards, my daughter took me to my nephew's house, where I stayed until today. Because it was holiday, it was impossible to coordinate with the Red Cross to enable me to return home sooner. Today, a Red Crescent ambulance brought me home. A police patrol car and a Civil Administration patrol car accompanied us, and this time, settlers didn't attack us. I arrived home around 12:30 P.M. Just before reaching the house, we were kept waiting for half an hour because a tanker was bringing water to the army.  

Since the incident, I haven't been able to calm down. I am still frightened, and hear the sound of the window shattering. I don't know if I'll ever dare again to ride in an ambulance, I'm so afraid.

Mediha A'abeid Hamed Abu Haikal, 70, a widow with five children, is a homemaker and a resident of Tel Rumeida, Hebron. Her testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash at the witness's house on 14 April 2009.