Muslim United Hatzalah voluneer prays while on duty
Muslim United Hatzalah voluneer prays while on dutyMoshe Mizrachi

On Saturday morning, United Hatzalah volunteer physician Dr. Tarek Abu Arar was held hostage for several hours and shot twice by Hamas terrorists who had infiltrated southern Israel.

Dr. Abu Arar, a resident of Arara Banegev, was driving to his shift in the ER at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon on Saturday morning when at a junction near Sderot he came across a person who seemed injured on the side of the road next to a 4x4 vehicle.

“At that moment, there had been no reports of any infiltration,” recounted Dr. Abu Arar. “Thankfully, we had just had a ‘red alert’ siren about 20 minutes earlier so I had decided to wear my bulletproof vest. But I initially thought it was a routine car accident so I stopped on the side of the road in order to help.”

“Suddenly as I got closer to the car I saw about 50 meters away what looked like an Israeli soldier in uniform. He gestured to me to come to him. As I walked to him and was just 10 meters away, he suddenly shot me in the chest. I started shouting and praying, convinced that I was about to die. I thought he was a soldier who had mistaken me for a terrorist. Then I heard someone say in Arabic, ‘Stop, stop, he is an Arab.’

“This is when I understood they were Hamas terrorists. As I looked back, about 10 additional men in military attire came out from behind the bushes and started interrogating me in Arabic. They asked me questions to check my knowledge of Islam. They had Kalashnikovs and very advanced military equipment and were wearing green uniforms that looked similar to IDF uniforms.”

Dr. Abu Arar continued, “They attached me to a pole in the center of the junction and said, ‘That’s it we have a hostage, the IDF cannot eliminate us from the air anymore,’ and began shooting at every car that passed by the junction, making sure to kill every occupant of the cars. It was horrific. This continued for two hours until the army arrived at the scene and there was a shootout between the terrorists and the soldiers, with me in the middle.”

“Then one of the terrorists shot me in the leg from point blank and signaled with his hand that the next bullet would be in my head. I started bleeding pretty massively. During this whole time, I was praying for a miracle. I was convinced that I was about to die. The IDF forces retreated and 45 minutes later a Yamam commando force arrived at the scene. They succeeded in eliminating all of the terrorists and rescued me. They put a tourniquet on my leg and an ambulance came to transport me to Soroka Hospital where I was treated and released a few hours later.”

“This was the worst experience of my life. I have dedicated my life to helping others and saving lives, both in my profession as a doctor and my volunteering with United Hatzalah. To be forced to witness the horrible slaughter carried out in front of my eyes was terrible. I have no words to describe it. Just terrible,” he described.

Tarek has been a volunteer doctor with United Hatzalah for over a year and is currently recuperating at home after having been released from the hospital. He is one of four United Hatzalah volunteers who were injured in the conflict on Saturday, one of whom, another Muslim volunteer, was providing medical coverage at the music festival when he was injured and kidnapped by Hamas. An additional volunteer, Maor Shalom, was killed while trying to save lives after he was called up to duty as part of Israel's security forces.