Daily Israel Report

Ambulance With Israeli Markings Spotted in the PA

An ambulance bearing Israeli markings has reportedly been sold to elements in the Palestinian Authority. Concerned the vehicle may be used as cover in a terrorist bombing, police are investigating.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 10/21/2005, 11:37 AM / Last Update: 10/21/2005, 12:27 PM

The vehicle, belonging to the HaGalil Ambulance company - a private Galilee area ambulance service - was spotted by Samaria District police officers on Wednesday. Subsequently, Afif Zaied, affiliated with HaGalil Ambulance, was picked up by police for questioning in connection with the transfer of the ambulance to Arabs from the PA. Zaied told investigators that the ambulance was sent for service to a garage in the PA-controlled city of Tulkarem, east of Netanya. Zaied was released by police on Friday, while the investigation into the sale continues.

Authorities are concerned that the HaGalil emergency medical services vehicle, previously owned by the national Magen David Adom (Red Star of David), could serve terrorists as cover for a bombing at an Israeli hospital or at the scene of another mass casualty incident. While the former MDA markings were removed from the vehicle prior to its sale to the private Galilee company, the ambulance is still equipped with Israeli license plates and Hebrew markings, which would facilitate bringing it into sensitive areas.

Security services have repeatedly warned that Arab terrorists are making efforts to obtain an Israeli ambulance for purposes of a car-bomb attack. Special security measures have thus far been implemented to keep Israeli ambulances out of the hands of PA elements and to protect hospital emergency rooms. One scenario for which the hospitals are taking precautions is a suicide bomber in one location followed by an ambulance-bomb at the hospital to which the wounded are evacuated. For this reason, even in the wake of a terrorist attack, ambulances arriving at any hospital must be cleared by security before they can approach the emergency room.

Just last month, police chased down a Palestinian Authority car thief driving a stolen ambulance on a major Tel Aviv highway. The arrested driver stole the vehicle from outside the home of a medic who was on call for the emergency medical services. A paramedic from the Tel Aviv area spotted and identified the stolen vehicle, and called the police.