Israeli doctors ordered to treat attackers first if they have the worst wounds

National 1 minute, 30 seconds


ISRAEL’S Medical Association said yesterday that under new guide-lines doctors at scenes of attack should first treat the person with the worst injuries, including Palestinian suspects.

The decision, by the Medical Association’s Ethics Board, triggered an uproar in the country, which saw a three-month wave of violence, with nearly daily attempted stabbing attacks by Palestinians.

Chairman of the Medical Association, Leonid Eidelman, told Army Radio that the Ethics Board decided to cancel a clause in its code of ethics, which stipulated that in case of a Palestinian attack, “the principle of ‘charity begins at home’ must apply,” meaning doctors should first provide medical care to Israeli injuries and only later to suspected Palestinian attackers.

This principle was part of a code of ethics written in 2008 and last updated in 2014. Under the revised guidelines, doctors should treat patients “based on the concrete conditions existing at the time of the event,” with the top urgency given to “those with an immediate risk to their lives that it seems may be saved.”

The Israel Today daily reported that the revision was made after Physicians for Human rights, an Israeli rights watchdog, asked the Ethics Board to review its guide-lines, saying the current rules violate international law.

Far-right lawmakers reacted to the new guidelines with fury, with former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman urging the officials of the Medical Association to step down “in light of the embarrassing decision they made.”

Palestinian media frequently report that Israeli forces prevent medical teams from attending Palestinians who were shot after allegedly perpetrating an attack against Israelis in the West Bank.

The Israeli rights watchdog B’Tselem said Wednesday that it documented at least two cases in which Israeli medical teams treated wounded soldiers without treating Palestinians who were laying on the ground with gunshot wounds.