During the al-Aksa intifada, many human rights groups and politicians leveled allegations against Israel concerning abuse by IDF soldiers against Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances. These allegations typically said that soldiers gratuitously delayed ambulances attempting to cross from the West Bank into Israel proper, resulting in inconveniences, medical complications and even death for the sick passengers on-board. These accounts portrayed the delays as wanton acts of cruelty on the part of Israeli soldiers against Palestinians in need of medical attention.
The accusations were based on fact: ambulances were indeed routinely stopped and searched at Israeli border checkpoints. What the allegations failed to do, however, was put this fact into a broader context and mis-explained the reason for the stoppages.
The reason that ambulances were held and searched at checkpoints was due to the perifidous actions of Palestinian terrorists in their unending missions to harm Israeli citizens. These terrorists frequently used ambulances as a means to transport bombs, guns and other weapons. Many of the terrorists who triggered suicide bombings in Israel gained access to the country by driving or riding in Red Crescent ambulances.
The accusations leveled against Israel by its critics based their condemnations for stopping ambulances on statements of international law, such as the Fourth Geneva Convention. While the Geneva Convention does place particular emphasis on the immunity and neutrality of ambulances and emergency medical personnel in war zones, the belief that Israel should ignore a clear and present danger to its citizens, or else violate international law, is a distortion.
It is in fact the Palestinian terrorists - the ones who are using ambulances to smuggle explosives into Israel - that are compromising the Red Crescents immunity and neutrality.