Israelis, Palestinians Cooperate in Tragic Bus Accident

Medical teams from the Israeli Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Palestinian Red Crescent paramedic services worked together on Thursday to save children and teachers from a bus accident in which eight people were killed and dozens injured. The wounded were evacuated to Israeli and Palestinian hospitals.

Israeli President Shimon Peres also called Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to share his condolences for the tragedy. The cooperation and condolence call occurred despite the diplomatic impasse between the sides in currently-suspended peace talks.

A press release from MDA said a truck and the bus carrying schoolchildren were involved in the accident, in which the bus overturned and caught fire. After receiving a call regarding the incident, MDA declared it a mass-casualty event “immediately,” according to the press release, with “large forces” of medical units, along with senior officers, being alerted. Palestinians arrived at the scene and began evacuating the injured to hospitals in Ramallah.

The Israeli forces, upon reaching the site, evacuated eight wounded to Israeli hospitals, including two seriously-injured persons. The press release said leaders of both MDA and the Palestinian Red Crescent met at the scene, during which MDA Director-General Eli Binn offered “as many units of blood as were necessary.”

Israeli hospitals are world-renowned and foreign patients travel from abroad to be treated by Israeli doctors. In light of that and within the context of the  two organizations’ cooperation, the release noted that the MDA head also offered “to place at the Red Crescent’s disposal considerable MDA forces” to move the injured from Ramallah hospitals to Israeli ones.

MDA Director-General Binn was quoted by the press release as saying, “There is no doubt that the cooperation between all of the forces that worked together at the scene enabled, and is still enabling, the saving of lives and the giving of the best possible medical care to those who were injured in the accident. In such cases, there is no significance to the ethnicity or origin of the victims and we all work to one end—saving lives.”

Presidential Phone Call

Meanwhile, President Peres phoned his Palestinian counterpart Abbas following the bus accident, in which seven of the dead were children. “I would like to express my sorrow over this tragedy and to convey my condolences to the families that lost their dear children,” Peres was quoted by his office as telling Abbas. “The State of Israel will continue to provide medical assistance to the injured as is necessary.”

Abbas, for his part, thanked Peres for the gesture and was quoted by Peres’ office as saying, “This is a terrible tragedy for the Palestinian people in which—to my sorrow—many were killed and injured.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also responded to the tragedy. Netanyahu’s spokesman, Ofir Gendleman, said on Twitter that the Israeli premier “sends his condolences to the Palestinian families who lost loved ones today and offers the PA any assistance it may require.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, February 16, 2012)