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      MDA's Red Star of David Out – But Why?

      Magen David Adom is removing its symbol from ambulances used east of the 1949 armistice line, known also as the pre-1967 line.
      By Maayana Miskin
      First Publish: 8/22/2011, 10:44 PM

      MDA ambulance
      MDA ambulance
      News photo: MDA

      The Magen David Adom first response organization is removing its trademark red Star of David symbol from ambulances used in Israeli towns east of the 1949 armistice line, community leaders in Judea and Samaria have reported. The move is apparently part of an agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has previously taken exception to use of the Star.

      Moves to recognize the armistice line as having special meaning are controversial in Israel. They are often seen as siding with the Palestinian Authority, which insists on treating the line -- also referred to as the pre-1967 line -- as a border even though it has no legal significance.

      Judea and Samaria community leaders accused MDA of using subterfuge to make the switch. Ambulances that were sent for repairs were returned with the new symbols, they said.

      MDA admits to changing the symbols on many ambulances, but denies that the change is connected to towns' location on either side of the armistice line.

      “MDA operates two types of ambulances. One is operated from MDA stations, while the other includes community ambulances, present in villages, kibbutzim, moshavim... The communities operate the ambulances independently, pay the workers' salaries and are responsible for repairs,” the organization said in a statement.

      “MDA decided to change the writing on the community ambulances so that it would be clear which community they are located in, and which community operated them,” the statement continued.

      The group denied rumors that MDA had agreed not to operate east of the armistice line.

      However, Judea and Samaria leaders remained suspicious of the true motives behind the change. An appeal to MDA was met with a statement saying, in part, that the move to change the symbols had been made “in coordination with the Foreign Ministry” - a clear indicator, leaders said, that the move was in fact political.

      Judea and Samaria (Yesha) Council members were not appeased by MDA's assurances that “community ambulances” west of the armistice line would eventually have the same symbol change. The “community ambulances” in question are used in Arab villages whose residents do not care for the regular Star of David symbol, they argued.

      The Yesha Council has called on Judea and Samaria communities not to allow changes to ambulances in their area.