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Testimony: Soldiers assault medical team, preventing them from evacuating heart-attack victim, April 2009

'Ali Tmeizi, 26, paramedic

'Ali Tmeizi

For five years, I have worked as a paramedic for the Palestinian Red Crescent. Now, I work at the medical center in Beit Ummar. I am also a third-year student in business administration at the Open University.

Last Saturday [4 April], around 2:30  A.M., we got a call from the intensive-care main hotline in Hebron to go to the tunnels checkpoint and take a heart-attack victim, a  resident of Surif, to the hospital. They told us the patient would be waiting in a Magen David Adom [Israeli] ambulance.

We left the medical center in an ambulance and headed to Beit Ummar. Iyad Medyah, 27, who works with me, drove. When we got to the exit from the town, we found that the iron gate was closed. On the other side of the gate was an army jeep, with six soldiers next to it. At least one more soldier was in the army tower next to the gate./>

The ambulance's siren was on to let them know we were on duty. We waited there ten minutes, but no soldier came over to us. The tower's light was beamed at us. While we were waiting, the rescue hotline in Hebron called to say we had to get to our destination quickly because the patient was in serious condition.

Since no soldier opened the gate, I got out and opened it. It wasn't locked. Iyad drove the ambulance through the gate, and I closed it and got back into the ambulance. We drove a short distance and then Iyad spoke with the soldiers. One soldier told him to go back in the direction of the gate. Iyad said that we were on our way to the tunnels checkpoint to take a patient who was in a Magen David Adom ambulance. One of the soldiers shouted at Iyad, told him to get out, and threatened that if he didn't turn off the engine, he would smash it.

Before Iyad managed to turn off the engine and get out, the same soldier opened the door of the ambulance and pulled Iyad from the seat. He tried to force him out, slapped him, and hit his head against the steering wheel. Another soldier helped him, and the two removed Iyad from the ambulance.

When Iyad was on the ground, the soldier who slapped him continued to beat him. He pushed his head against the ambulance and hit him in the head with his helmet. Then he dragged Iyad a few meters in the direction of a shop at the end of the street.

Iyad continually tried to avoid the punches and slaps. He tried to explain to the soldiers that he was on duty. I don't know much Hebrew. I heard the officer shout at him. Then the officer and a soldier pushed Iyad to the ground and left him lying there. The officer then came over to me and ordered me to get out of the ambulance. I got out right away, without argument, because I saw what had happened to Iyad. The soldier spoke to me in Hebrew, and I told him I didn't understand Hebrew, but that we could speak in English. He asked me, in English, where we were going, and I told him that we were on our way to get a patient. When I said the word “patient,” he asked me, “What does “patient” mean?”  Then he grabbed me by the front of my shirt collar and pushed me toward the fence on the side of the road.

At the same time, my cell phone began to ring. It was from the main hotline in Hebron. When I tried to answer, the soldier hit the cell phone with his hand, knocking it to the ground. I picked up the phone, and the soldier ordered me to go sit on the ground next to Iyad.

After that, the soldier searched the ambulance and removed all the things, the stretchers and the devices. It took more than seven minutes. Then he ordered us to leave, and warned us to beware of him. We put the things back into the ambulance and got in. We called the hotline in Hebron, and they told us that the patient's condition had deteriorated, and since we had been delayed more than half an hour, the Magen David Adom ambulance had taken him to Hadassah Hospital.

We then returned to the medical center in Beit Ummar. The left side of the back of Iyad's head had been injured, and he received treatment at the medical center. We prepared a report on the incident and sent it to the main hotline office.

'Ali Muhammad 'Ali Tmeizi, 26, married with one child, is a paramedic and a resident of Idhna, in Hebron District. His testimony was given to Musa Abu Hashhash in Hebron on 11 April 2009.