Helicopter evacuation (illustrative)
Helicopter evacuation (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

Arab rioters who are injured when they try to attack IDF soldiers or police are provided an important “health benefit” - they are often taken for treatment to hospitals in Israel. Many of the Arab rioters injured in unrest in Judea and Samaria are taken to Israeli hospitals in ambulances, but on Saturday, for the first time in a decade, Israel provided a helicopter to take an Arab rioter who was injured after he rushed IDF troops, throwing rocks and bricks at soldiers, with soldiers responding with anti-riot tactics and injuring the attacking Arab.

The incident occurred in Shechem on Saturday. The Arab was deemed too injured to be transported to a local hospital, so an IDF unit entered the city in order to vacate the Arab and prepare him for transport to an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem. The IDF unit's entry was made in coordination with PA police.

A senior IDF medical officer told Arutz Sheva that in the months since the conclusion of Operation Pillar of Defense, the number of riots by PA Arabs had climbed significantly, as had the number of injured Arab rioters. Consequently, the number of Arab rioters Israel is treating in its hospitals – at its own expense, of course – had also grown considerably.

Saturday's incident occurred in the course of a riot by Arabs in the village of Kafr Kutzra, near Shechem. The Arab was badly injured in the incident, and was taken to a hospital in Shechem. Doctors there decided that they did not have the facilities to help the rioter – but called in the IDF, in the hope that the army would transport him to Israel, where there were facilities to deal with his injuries.

At first, the medical officer said, the army had planned to have the Shechem medical personnel transport the Arab to an IDF checkpoint, where he would be transferred to an Israeli ambulance and taken in for treatment. “That is the most common way for us to deal with these incidents,” the officer said. “In this case, however, when we learned the details of his injuries, we decided that he would probably not survive the transfer to one of our ambulances.”

As a result, the IDF decided to take the rioter to an Israeli hospital for treatment by helicopter, in an operation that cost Israeli taxpayers tens of thousands of shekels. The IDF sent in a special medical team, accompanied by soldiers and under the protection of PA police – with their safety guaranteed by no less than the PA's Governor of the Shechem district. The team provided initial treatment for the Arab at the Shechem hospital, ensuring that he was stable enough to be moved onto the helicopter.

The Arab rioter was taken to Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, said the medical officer, “where even getting off the helicopter he was in much better shape than when we picked him up. In retrospect, there was no danger at any time, as we were well-protected by PA police, and the guarantee of the Governor of Shechem.

“This operation was the single opportunity to save this person's life,” the officer said. “The hospitals in Shechem are understaffed, and what staff they have are mostly unprofessional and incapable of undertaking delicate treatment, unlike in Israeli hospitals.” The rioter was accompanied by two of his PA doctors, who, the officer said, “were stunned when they saw how we were able to help their patient.”

According to the officer, at least one third of all the patients treated in Israeli hospitals transported by the IDF medical corps in Judea and Samaria are Arabs, mostly rioters injured in incidents where they tried to attack IDF soldiers.