rene | 30.03.2002 01:01
Press Statement - Palestine Red Crescent Society HQ
PRCS leadership expresses its shock at events yesterday in which an ambulance was reportedly carrying explosives.Ê Our initial investigation leads us to believe that this was a staged event in which the Israeli army was involved in to taint the Red Crescent ambulances.Ê We have debriefed the passengers of the vehicle, examined the timeline and other eyewitness accounts, and are amazed at how the Israeli army managed within the span of 20 minutes to invite the media and press corps in the area before even confirming the presence of the explosive device.Ê If this was a routine and random search, one wonders why the occupants of the vehicle were so quickly released, except for the Red Crescent Medic?Ê One also wonders as to the perfect timing and location of the incident so close for the media to get to? And one wonders about the Israeli reserve TV actor onsite participating in briefing the media? And of the armyÕs initial claims that they had arrested a militant on their “most wanted list”? These questions need answers.
We are conducting a more thorough internal investigation and seek to speak with our medic currently under arrest.Ê As a Red Crescent organization, we remain committed to providing emergency medical care to all in need, Israeli and Palestinian. PRCS will also cooperate with security investigators to determine the facts around this incident and find those responsible for this crime.
Our message to the Israeli public is simple; you have nothing to fear from our ambulances.
Our message to the Israeli army has 3 points:
1) We seek an independent investigation of yesterday’s incident
2) Stop the attacks and disinformation campaign against Red Crescent ambulances and staff
3) We are proceeding with steps to prosecute Israeli army commanders responsible for the death and injury to our medics and doctors over the past 3 weeks.
We also have a message to the International community; We need your presence as neutral observers on the ground to prevent further bloodshed and human rights abuses.
The facts around the ambulance that was stopped yesterday:
*Red Crescent ICU ambulance en route from Nablus to Ramallah, with a mother, 3 children, a doctor and a PRCS medic were first stopped and searched at a checkpoint south of Nablus.Ê It was permitted to pass.Ê Ê
*The ambulance passed three other checkpoints before it was forced to stop south of Ramallah by an Israeli army patrol which fired shots in the air as the ambulance approached.Ê The ambulance stopped.Ê All passengers were ordered out and the Israeli soldiers told them that the ambulance was carrying explosives.Ê Ê
*The driver, Mr Islam Jibril, was arrested. All others were released. The driver has been with the PRCS for over 6 years and has treated many injured Israelis and Palestinians over the past year.
*PRCS is concerned about the abuse of its fleet by any/all sides, whether Israeli or Palestinian.
*While we are thankful that this incident did not result in the death or injury of anyone, PRCS is concerned this event may have been a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of its ambulances.
*The soldiers at the checkpoint seemed to be waiting for this vehicle and initial Israeli army reports about arresting wanted militants in the ambulance were not true.
For further info write to PressOffice@Palestinercs.org or call 240-6515 ext. 281 Sawsan Khader mobile 057-797-722