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(en) Israel-Palestine, alt. media, Twilight Zone/ In The Line Of Duty Palestinian Medic Shot Five Times - by Gideon Levy

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://www.zmag.org)
Date Sun, 9 Mar 2003 17:04:01 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

Whenever they hear the sound of the IDF's war
machine approaching, the medical teams in Gaza get
into their ambulances and head out into the field. 
On the night shift of the Palestinian police clinic in 
the northern Gaza Strip, a team made up of two doctors, 
two medics and a driver was doing just that late last 
Sunday night.

Among them was medic Majd Majdalawi, who 
now lies in Sheba Medical Center,
recovering from his numerous wounds. 

Having spent five years on the job, Majdalawi, 
30, has seen it all. "I've seen people
wounded from bombs and gunfire, from shells 
and tanks, assassinations, rockets, mines,
you name it. Head wounds, chest wounds, 
stomach wounds, and in the legs like me. A lot
died and a lot survived. I've seen hundreds, 
many hundreds." That night, the experienced
medic lay bleeding on the ground for a long 
time before his colleagues could get to him.
The bright orange vest he wore and the lights 
of his ambulance didn't stop him from
coming under fire. He was shot at after he and 
his fellow medic tried to come to the aid of a
wounded man lying by the side of the road, 
between a house that had just been blown up
and a row of nearby trees. The man may have 
been an armed suspect, wanted by the IDF.

A week after being wounded, Majdalawi still 
couldn't get out of bed. As a child, he moved
from Zarnuja (now Rehovot) to Cairo, from 
there to Libya and then, in 1991, to the
Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza. He went to 
nursing school in Amman and then returned to
Gaza. In 1999, he married Hoda, who grew up in 
Rafah and whose family comes from a
vanished village that once stood near 
Ashkelon. A year ago, they bought an apartment in
a project designed for young couples in 
northern Gaza. They have two daughters: Nur, 
2, and Nada, a year old. Majdalawi, who speaks 
English well, works full-time at the
Palestinian Police clinic in Gaza, and does 
night shifts at the small Adawa private 
to supplement his income. 

When Hoda gently moves his wounded legs, he 
winces in pain. The doctor recently took
him off the machine that was infusing him with 

Last Sunday, Majdalawi left home around 7 
P.M. to work a night shift at the police clinic.
"Be careful out there," a neighbor called out to 
him as he stepped into a taxi. At around 11,
the sound of the Israeli MRPV was first heard. 
"When we heard it, we knew there would be
trouble," he says. A little before midnight, 
Hoda called. She was worried: Helicopters filled
the sky and she could hear tanks on the move. 
Then the second floor of the clinic, which
was empty, came under fire. The orchards and 
the abandoned posts of the Palestinian
security forces near the building are always 

The shooting intensified, and the team hurried 
out of the building: Dr. Faisal Ashkar, Dr.
Ismail Najjar, medic Mohammed Abu Shanar 
and driver Abdullah Maqawi joined
Majdalawi in the ambulance. They quickly 
headed toward the center of town. There, on
Nasser Street, they stopped at a friend's 

Their director instructed the two medics to 
head back north with the driver, because there
were wounded there. On the way, they got 
reports from other ambulances that had
already been to the area under fire. At 2:30 in 
the morning, they heard a loud explosion.
They were told that the house of a suspect in 
the Tawam neighborhood had been blown
up. Majdalawi still doesn't know who exactly 
they were talking about. They also heard that
there were wounded people near the house, and 
that it would be dangerous to try to get
close to them. 

They took a roundabout route and arrived in 
Tawam, finding other ambulances and a
television crew out to cover the action. They 
formed a little convoy and made wary, halting
progress forward. Suddenly, a tank came over a 
nearby hill: "Then we knew that that's
where the danger was and the demolished 
house and the injured people." They stopped
and waited. Two people suddenly ran across the 
dark street and shouted to them to get
away because tanks were coming. Soon after, 
they heard firing coming from the direction
of the tank. Majdalawi told the driver to turn 
around quickly, but then they heard cries for
help coming from inside one of the houses. 
They carefully moved toward the house. The
two medics got out of the ambulance. In the 
darkness, Majdalawi saw that someone was
lying by the side of the road. "At that moment, 
I stopped thinking. I forgot about the tank. I
just wanted to evacuate the wounded person," 
he says. They approached the man, saw
that he was breathing and decided to try to 
carry him to the ambulance. Majdalawi took 
his hands and Abu Shanar held his legs. 

The shooting started right away. They had just 
begun to move the wounded man when
the first bullet struck Majdalawi's left leg and 
he fell to the ground. Then Abu Shanar was
wounded, also in the left leg. Abu Shanar began 
to crawl as fast as he could toward the
ambulance; he was not as seriously injured as 
Majdalawi. He thinks he hadn't managed to
crawl more than a meter before he was struck a 
second time, this time in the arm. 

He began shouting for help to the other 
ambulance crews, which weren't very far away,
but they shouted back that they couldn't get to 
him because of the gunfire. He lay wounded
on the ground, futilely calling for help. 
Meanwhile, his friend Abu Shanar took shelter
behind a wall of a nearby house. 

"I was covered with blood. I tried to crawl a 
little further. I'd just started moving when
another bullet hit me in the left leg. At this 
point, I'd almost lost consciousness. Everything
was hazy. Every two minutes, I yelled to the 
other guys. I was lying between the wounded
guy behind me and the other ambulance teams, 
who'd taken cover behind the house. All I
could think about was how I was going to get 
out of this." 

The minutes passed, seeming like hours. 
Finally, one of the ambulance drivers parked his
vehicle so it could act as a buffer between the 
tank and Majdalawi, and he was taken into
this ambulance along with the other injured 
man, who appeared to have died in the

The tank opened fire again and a bullet struck 
one of the ambulance's tires. Another
ambulance was placed as a buffer, and he was 
transferred there on a stretcher. Toward
daybreak, they reached Shifa hospital and that 
evening he was rushed to Sheba, where
he was in surgery for 18 hours. He was shot five 
times in all - in the right leg, the left leg,
the arm, the abdomen and the back. The worst 
injury was to his right leg, where the bone
was shattered and the nerves damaged. His 
doctors hope that he'll be back on his feet
eventually, though he has a long way to go. This 
week, he was transferred back to Gaza,
much to his dismay. He had hoped to remain 
here for his future operations and

Hoda slept on a fold-out couch in her husband's 
hospital room at Sheba all week. An Arab
janitor lent them his cellular phone so they 
could stay in touch with their little girls in 
His mother is staying with them. Majdalawi 
says he has no doubts that he and his
colleagues were fired upon to prevent them 
from evacuating the wounded man. 

After all of that, how does it feel to be lying in 
an Israeli hospital? "It's a weird feeling," he
says. "I'm a person who never hated Jews and 
never thought about hating Jews. I was
always sure of what I was doing and I always 
thought that if an Israeli soldier got wounded
near me, I would take care of him like I would 
anyone else. That's why I expected to be
treated well here, because we're all involved in 
saving lives. And I have been treated well. 

"We know that we can also become targets - a 
friend of mine who's a medic lost his leg a
few months ago - but we're determined to do 
our job, to save lives. God willing, when I
recover, I'll go back to the same place, to the 
same job." 

The IDF spokesperson's response: "On the 
night of February 16-17, IDF forces destroyed
the house of Ahmed Randur, a Hamas 
commander in the northern sector, west of 
Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip. Randur is 
responsible for the bomb that was activated by 
a tank near the settlement of Dugit on Saturday, 
February 15, 2003, which killed four IDF
soldiers. Randur is also responsible for other 
terror attacks, including the clash of a
terrorist cell with IDF soldiers in June 2002 by 
Dugit in which three IDF soldiers were

"During the action, the forces came under fire. 
IDF soldiers returned fire toward the
sources of the gunfire. In checking with sources 
in the field, there was no claim of
someone from a medical team being injured. It 
should be noted that no complaint about
such a matter was received by the coordination 
and liaison offices." 

According to the Red Crescent, since the start 
of the intifada, there have been 231
incidents of Palestinian ambulances coming 
under fire: 109 ambulances were hit and 27
were totally destroyed; 187 Red Crescent staff - 
doctors, medics and drivers - were injured
in these incidents and three were killed by IDF 
fire. Physicians for Human Rights
researcher Ibrahim Habib sent a letter this 
week to the military advocate general in which
he called for an investigation into the shooting 
of Majdalawi and asked that those
responsible be brought to justice.

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