Palestinian Terrorism: Misuse of Medical Services to Further Terrorist Activity
(Updated November 2014)
Palestinian terrorist organizations make use of medical services for the purpose of disguising their terrorist activity. Many of their members travel in ambulances, transporting arms in them as well, thus taking cynical advantage of the fact that ambulances are not subject to strict security checks.
Terrorists also hide out in hospitals, even surrounding themselves with explosives, knowing that Israeli security forces will not enter medical institutions.
Recruitment of Doctors for the Purpose of Assisting in Terrorist Attacks
In June 2002, the security forces arrested Mustafa Amjad, a doctor at Gazzy Hospital in Jenin. Amjad was recruited by the Hamas military wing in Jenin to bring suicide bombers into Baka al-Sharkia, near the Seam Line.
Amjad admitted during questioning that he brought two terrorists to Baka al-Sharkia on June 17, 2002. The two intended to infiltrate into Israel and blow themselves up in a suicide attack. Amjad, who was delivering medicines, rode in a taxi in order to ensure that the way was clear for the terrorists, who were driving behind him.
Ultimately, the attack did not take place, because of IDF activity in the area, and the two would-be suicide bombers returned to the territories.
Misuse of Ambulances to Carry out Attacks
In July, it was discovered that members of the Tanzim were traveling in ambulances throughout the cities of the Gaza Strip. On July 1st, for example, Tanzim members traveled in ambulances in the city of Nablus.
On June 30th, ambulances from the Sheikh Zaid Hospital in Ramallah transported wanted terrorists to and from the hospital and to various other places inside the city while it was under curfew. This was at the express order of Arafat.
On July 1st, two wanted terrorists were brought to the hospital by ambulance from the area known as Sarait Ramallah.
On March 27, 2002, Islam Jibril was arrested at an IDF roadblock near Ramallah. Islam, a Tanzim member who was born in 1971 and lives in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus, worked as an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent. Explosive belts and other explosives were found inside the ambulance, which Islam was driving at the time of his arrest. During his questioning, Islam admitted that Mahmud Titi, a senior member of the Tanzim in Samaria who was killed by Israeli security forces in a preemptive action, gave the explosives to him in Nablus.
Children disguised as patients were also found in the ambulance. The explosive belt was discovered under the stretcher that the "sick" child was lying on. The child's family was with him in the ambulance at the time.
In March 2002, armed and wanted terrorists in Ramallah used ambulances in order to move about the city. They wore doctors' gowns and often hid in various wards in the city's hospitals.
One of the documents seized during Operation Defensive Shield mentions a Palestinian ambulance in which arms were concealed in the floor. Another captured document reveals that the Palestinian General Intelligence used an ambulance to transport an arrested suspect from Husan to Bethlehem.
Misuse of Hospitals
Amar Abu Snena, a senior member of the military Tanzim from the Abu Sneina neighborhood in Hebron, admitted under questioning that, at the beginning of 2002, he placed explosives around Al-Mizan Hospital, where he was hiding from Israeli forces that were expected to arrive in the area.
On July 8th 2002, a military jeep belonging to the Palestinian national security was hidden in a hospital in Tulkarem so that it could not be confiscated by the IDF.
Amad Hamud, a resident of Bethlehem who served in Ramallah as an active member of Force 17, admitted under questioning that he participated in many shooting attacks against IDF forces. Amad, who surrendered to IDF forces during Operation Defensive Shield, also admitted that, in one case, he fled to al-Mistakbal Hospital, a private hospital in Ramallah, and shot at Israeli soldiers from inside the hospital.
During Operation Protective Edge in mid 2014, Hamas used the Shifa hospital in Gaza as an operations base/bunker. The hospital continued to see patients as the Hamas operatives congregated in the bunker underneath. This hospital had been a Hamas headquarters for many years, and in 2006 PBS aired a documentary that showed Hamas militants roaming the hallways and offices of the hospital. It is no secret that the hospital doubles as a Hamas operations base, and Hamas officials have held interviews in the hospital before. In the past, the Palestinian Health Ministry has accused Hamas of taking control of areas in Shifa hospital and using rooms for interrogation, torture, and imprisonment.
On August 1 2014, a Finnish female reporter was reporting from Shifa hospital when she witnessed a rocket launched from the parking lot, destined for Israeli territory.
Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry