You Won’t Believe What Israel Is Doing On The Syrian Border

Under IHL (international humanitarian law), medical personnel are obligated to treat all patients without discrimination. Patients are not registered according to their ethnicity, politics, religion, or participation in prior hostilities. They are triaged only according to their medical needs and the urgency with which they need to be seen. Withholding care or providing care in a discriminatory fashion is strictly prohibited—it is a breach of medical ethics as well as the Geneva Conventions, and can amount to a war crime.

It is interesting to note that Israeli emergency facilities, such as Magen David Adom, have always abided strictly (some say too strictly) to this precept. According to MDA regulations, when dealing with victims of a terrorist attack for example, the person most seriously injured must be treated first. That includes the terrorist. If the terrorist is most seriously injured, he must be treated before his victims. Sounds insane? Perhaps.

The conflict over humanitarianism and medical ethics in Israel is an intense one. It includes saving the lives many times of those who will heal and continue to try to kill innocent Israeli civilians.

Yet, Israel, in its quest to be a light unto the nations, to lead the way on the road to high medical ethical standards, has sacrificed a great deal. The debate over who to treat first is acute. Treating victims (and at times attackers) from the Syrian border is what is required by the IHL. One wonders which of its Muslim neighbors would be willing to do the same for Israel.

Published: March 29, 2016
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