Senior IDF officials were among those at a conference on humanitarian medicine held this week in Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. IDF commanders and soldiers were there to hear about recent developments and challenges in the IDF.
Brigadier-General Nitzan Alon, Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, said Israel had faced a unique humanitarian challenge in recent years. When a terror war broke out in 2000 and PA terrorists began attacking Israel more frequently than ever, Israel was forced to limit PA Arabs' access to Israeli cities, he said, leading to a situation in which PA Arabs were no longer able to simply drive to Israeli hospitals for treatment.
“We could not practice medicine beyond the minimum. In those days, we were on the verge of a humanitarian crisis,” he said.
Now, however, thanks to efforts to improve medical cooperation, 180,000 PA Arabs were treated in Israeli hospitals in the past year and several thousand emergency patients were successfully transferred between Israeli and PA ambulances.
The main challenge remains accessibility, said Dr. Tawfik Nasr, who coordinates multiple Arab hospitals in Jerusalem. “We face difficulty in transferring patients, personnel and medical equipment... But despite these difficulties, there are many successes.”
While the PA has several hospitals of its own as well as Arab doctors and foreign volunteers, many PA Arabs continue to seek treatment in Israel where both medical technology and levels of expertise are more advanced.