The director of the ZAKA emergency response organization clarified unequivocally on Thursday that medical volunteers at terror scenes treat injured victims first before treating Arab terrorists.
Yehuda Meshi Zahav made the clarification following the public outcry after Magen David Adom’s general director Eli Bein asserted that MDA medics will treat terrorists first if they’re in worse condition than the victims.
“Volunteers are faced with a great many number of serious ethical questions,” Meshi Zahav said in an interview with Kikar Shabbat. “I saw it personally in several recent attacks.”
According to the ZAKA director, volunteers arrive at the scene of the attack and often see the terrorist in serious or critical condition, while the Jewish victims are lightly-to-moderately wounded.
“You always have to deal first with those who are more severely wounded and this is a very difficult question,” he noted.
“The volunteers are asking us what to do,” Meshi Zahav continued. “In reality, it’s a bit easier because it’s forbidden to touch the terrorist until a police sapper comes to check if he’s armed with a bomb. This is what gives us time to check injured Jews in the meantime.”
Meshi Zahav stressed that this a complex issue, but “we instruct our volunteers to first take care of all Jews, because they were harmed just because they are Jews, while the terrorist murderer deserving of death.”
Israeli law technically does mandate the death penalty in certain cases, but in practice it has only ever been implemented once in the country’s history – the execution of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962. Recent years have seen a campaign to implement the death penalty for terrorist murderers gain steam, but the Israeli government has thus far resisted the pressure.
But for paramedics, the issue is a question of medical ethics – and what, if any, limits apply in such controversial cases.
“Although our Code of Ethics says we should first take care of the those most severely injured, we need to know that there is also a limit to morality,” he noted. “If we don’t make the distinction, we will lose direction.”