On Tuesday, 24 November. 2020, at around midday, several dozen Palestinians and Israelis held a demonstration near the Tayasir Checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley, with several dozen soldiers standing nearby. They were protesting Israel’s intention to annex the Jordan Valley and its harassment of Palestinian area residents, such as confiscating agricultural machinery, temporarily displacing communities – allegedly due to military training by their homes or in their pastureland – and demolishing the community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley in early November. During the demonstration, several protesters threw stones at the soldiers, who hurled stun grenades and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. About 20 protesters suffered gas inhalation, one was hit by a “rubber” bullet and another was hit in the head by a tear gas canister. According to the IDF Spokesperson, two soldiers who were driving by were lightly injured.
Tayasir resident Fadi Wahdan (25) took part in the demonstration. At around 1:00 P.M., he was hit in the abdomen by a “rubber” bullet and carried to an ambulance. As the paramedics started giving him first aid, soldiers opened the doors and tried to pull Wahdan out. In video footage shared on social media, soldiers are seen trying to force Wahdan out of the ambulance while a paramedic tries to protect him. A few minutes later, an officer arrived and ordered the soldiers to withdraw. Wahdan was taken to hospital in Tubas, where he was treated and discharged about three hours later.
Clearly, the soldiers’ violent attempt to drag a wounded person out of an ambulance while he was receiving urgent medical assistance cannot be considered legal – regardless of the circumstances Israeli officials will later cite to justify it. Along with the violent suppression of the protest, it is part of the daily, systemic oppression of Palestinians under occupation.
Yusef Daraghmeh (34), a paramedic from Tubas, was treating Wahdan in the ambulance along with a volunteer paramedic when the soldiers burst in and tried to drag the wounded man out.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh on 29 November 2020, Daraghmeh described what happened:
Yusef Daraghmeh (34), a paramedic from Tubas, was treating Wahdan in the ambulance along with a volunteer paramedic when the soldiers burst in and tried to drag the wounded man out. In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh on 29 November 2020, Daraghmeh described what happened:
I opened the side door of the ambulance and the guy carrying the wounded man helped me get him inside. He was screaming and writhing in pain. I closed the door and laid him on the stretcher. Suddenly, I heard banging on the ambulance and someone shouting to us to open the door. Two soldiers opened the side door. One came in and tried to pull the wounded man out while we were bandaging his wound and icing it. Another soldier opened the back door and tried to pull the stretcher out with the guy on it. He was terrified and screaming hysterically. The soldier couldn’t get the stretcher out. I yelled at him that he was crazy. The soldiers kept trying to pull the guy out. They were swearing and shouting. A few moments later, an officer arrived and ordered the soldiers away. Then he spoke to me in Hebrew, and from what I could understand, he asked me to keep treating the man because he wanted to arrest him.
I went to shut the side door, but a soldier held it to stop me. Again, the officer again ordered him to let go. We closed the doors and drove the man to the Turkish Hospital in Tubas.
Those were a terrifying few minutes. I’ve worked with the Red Crescent for years and nothing like this has ever happened to me. I can’t believe we got out of there safely.
In a testimony he gave B’Tselem field researcher ‘Aref Daraghmeh on 29 November 2020, Wahdan recounted:
At around 1:00 P.M., I was next to the checkpoint and was about to cross it, like some of the other protesters. Suddenly, I don’t know how, I found myself lying on the ground. I put my hand to my stomach because I felt really sharp pain. Someone next to me tried to lift me up and then an ambulance drove up and he put me in it. There were two paramedics in the ambulance and they put bandages and ice on my stomach to ease the intense pain. Suddenly, I heard a commotion and yelling outside. The door opened and a soldier tried to pull me off the stretcher I was lying on. Another soldier came around the back of the ambulance and tried to pull me out on the stretcher. I was terrified and started screaming hysterically and trying to hang on to the stretcher. I heard the paramedic tell them they were crazy. I thought they were going to kill me. I couldn’t believe it when I heard the ambulance door shut. The ambulance rushed to the Turkish Hospital in Tubas, where I was treated and released three hours later.
I can’t believe what I went through. When I think about it, I get nervous and scared they’ll come to arrest me, even though I didn’t do anything. The soldiers were violent and opened fire at the protesters. Thank God it ended peacefully.