30 Palestinians Join Ichud Hatzalah in Yerushalayim


ichud-hatzolahLess than five minutes after the woman from Meah She’arim put down the phone, a paramedic from United Hatzalah was at her door. He wore the familiar orange vest with the logo of United Hatzalah, but his Arab accent made her suspicious. She had expected him to be chareidi.

Unfazed, the paramedic reassured her, and she let him examine her husband, who was having a heart attack, and save his life.

He told her he was one of 30 Arab volunteers who recently joined the chareidi emergency medical services organization. The reason he was able to respond so quickly, he explained, is because he worked in a metalwork shop in Meah She’arim, although he lives in East Yerushalayim.

The 30 Arab volunteers yesterday received their graduation certificates and new vests with the organization’s logo, at a festive ceremony.

United Hatzalah responds to medical emergencies around the country. Most of the organization’s 1,500 volunteers are chareidim but their ranks now also include two Arab physicians from the Old City and paramedics from the Old City, Beit Safafa, Jabal Mukkaber, Ras al-Amud, Silwan and other East Yerushalayim  neighborhoods.

All the new paramedics received EMT kits. Some also were given the motorscooters with the United Hatzalah markings that have become a Haredi status symbol and enable volunteers to quickly reach people in need.

The volunteers, who are on call around the clock, provide medical care until a Magen David Adom ambulance arrives.

“These volunteers are saints,” United Hatzalah Chief Coordinator Eli Beer says about the Palestinian EMTs. “They practically risk their lives and give their all.”

“United Hatzalah focuses on saving life, whether the rescuer is Arab or Jewish,” the chairman of United Hatzalah, Zeev Kashash, says.

Murad Alian, a EMT from Beit Safafa, who along with Beer initiated the project to include Palestinians in the organization, says that in East Yerushalayim the need for volunteers is critical. Not only are the closest Magen David Adom clinics far away, but sometimes rescue teams must wait for a Border Police escort. Then they waste more precious time searching for the address: GPS is of little use when there are no street names or house numbers.

“People ask us we’re doing with the chareidi Jews and their sidelocks, but Arabs and chareidim are similar,” Alian says. “We know them well and get along with them amazingly. And as far as the Arab community is concerned it’s easier when an EMT is with a neutral, community-affiliated organization, dedicated to saving lives, rather than the government.”

All United Hatzalah volunteers are trained and qualified by Israeli medical organizations and institutions, and most of them have been MDA volunteers for years.

Alian says that years of working at MDA in Yerushalayim  have made him an expert in Jewish religious law. He knows, for example, that some chareidim are stricter than others and will not open a pill bottle on the Shabbos unless the medicine is an issue of life or death. In these cases the Arab volunteers do it for them.

Fifteen of the new recruits were put on the rota for weekend duties in chareidi communities and settlements over the weekend. Thus they find themselves sitting around the Shabbos seudah table with families, sampling Jewish cuisine and learning Jewish ways.

“Cholent and gefilte fish are okay, but no more than that,” says Alian. “No need to get carried away.”

 {Haaratez/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. “They practically risk their lives and give their all.” — SO TRUE, an ARAB will risk their life even give their all for their goals, ideals and religious belief.

    PERSONALLY, this is a recipe for disaster. When Reb Chaim shl”ita of Bnei Brak said not to hire ARAB WORKERS wasn’t he including volunteer EMT workers also?

  2. only negative can come from giving our arch enemies access to our first response system– and giving them wheels w/ lights and sirens- effectively giving them access to anywhere at anytime and excusing them from security checks!! eli beer should be arrested! ichud is disaster!

  3. That’s how it used to be in the days before Zionist Israel. The Arab Shabbos goy in my grandmother’s housing complex spoke Yiddish fluently. Before entering a Jewish home he’d say, “Baleboste, bahalt di vine.” During the Zionist riots, when the lechiniks and other thugs went searching for Arabs to kill, he came running, scared to death. My grandfather and his neighbors dressed him up as a Jew and sat him down in shul, shukling over a sefer. When the murderers stormed into the shul, they were fooled. Even I remember an Arab shabbos goy being invited into our home with no fear. They knew that the chareidim are against Zionism and had no tainos against us. Only when the chareidim started acting like Mizrachists, making the Medina first a bedieved and then a lechatchila, did the problems begin. That’s what we have to thank for for the kosel bus attack – the first direct attack on frum Jews.

  4. AA These are the fantasy stories that occured to yichidim. The Mufti of Yerushalayim during the time of Rav Sonnenfeld zt”l would not make a peace treaty with the Meah Shearim Jews, all Jews are infidels with tzitzes or not…. These are dreams of the past that have nothing to do with zionism, this is the historical destiny of klal yisroel in the yrs before the coming of the Mashiach.