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February 12, 2007

Israeli Hospital Treats Palestinian Gunmen

The Washington Times front-page article, "Israeli Hospital Treats Palestinian Fighters"(February 9) reports on the treatment of Palestinian gunmen in an Israeli hospital in Ashkelon. Correspondent Joshua Mitnick discloses that Barzilai Medical Center has been taking in Palestinian Arabs wounded during the late January-early February clashes between the Hamas and Fatah factions in the Gaza Strip. According to The Washington Times, Barzilai received the wounded "at a rate of several a day" and "has treated 124 patients from Gaza in the past year."

The wounded are treated regardless of their political affiliations or, apparently, status as security personnel, factional fighters or terrorists. Mitnick quotes Barzilai's chief medical director, Ron Lobel, as saying that "we don't know if it's Hamas or Fatah, we don't know if they are civilian or armed forces, we just know they are injured". However, the correspondent adds, most of the wounded going to Israel for treatment have been from the Fatah movement, since they fear entering Gaza Strip hospitals in which Hamas members have their own wards and even rooftop firing positions.

israeli nurse helping palestinian.jpg
ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOGRAPHS - Mon 05 Feb, 02:13 PM Abdullah Shalayil, a 26-year old Palestinian policeman and Fatah loyalist whose body was riddled with bullets during a gun battle with Hamas loyalists, receives medical care by Israeli nurses at the Barzilai Medical Center, in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, Monday, Feb.

One of the article's main points is the potential of Israeli medical care to change Palestinian minds. According to correspondent Mitnick, "when a wounded gunman [Adel Odeh] from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction tells a reporter that he wants 'to say thank you to all of the people of Israel' it seems that the center's work is changing at least some hearts and minds."

Reports like this one, rare in the major news media, provide a fuller perspective of the conflict and Israeli-Palestinian interactions. - RR

Posted by ER at February 12, 2007 12:51 PM


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