When ZAKA volunteer Chaim Foxman arrived at the scene of Wednesday’s Old City stabbing attack, he administered first aid to the victims of the attack rather than to the terrorist who perpetrated it, even though the terrorist was in worse condition.
While that may seem like common sense, his action was in violation of a recent injunction from the Israel Medical Association (IMA) which changed existing triage guidelines for scenes of terror attacks. The new guidelines instruct medical and emergency personnel to treat patients at the scenes of terror attacks according to the seriousness of their injuries without regard to whether the patient is a terrorist or victim.
ZAKA, an emergency care organization run by Orthodox Jews, immediately rejected the decision, announcing that it would always treat terror victims before terrorists no matter their medical condition. After Wednesday’s terror attack, in which two Israelis were killed by two knife-wielding terrorists, ZAKA demonstrated its commitment to the principle. The organization came out in support of its volunteer, Foxman, who posted about his experience on social media.
The controversial issue has cropped up as a result of the recent wave of terror incidents in Israel. The group Physicians for Human Rights submitted a petition accusing Israeli medical providers of violating international medical ethics and human rights, leading to a discussion by the IMA’s ethics committee and the subsequent change in guidelines.
Magen David Adom announced that it would follow the committee’s directive, providing treatment to terrorists first if their injuries were more grave. However, ZAKA instructed its volunteers to give assistance first to the wounded, whether they are Jews or Arabs.
Foxman wrote on social media, “To all those who are asking: When I got to the scene of the terror attack today at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem, I gave assistance to those who were wounded by the stabbing, and no! I did not take care of the odious terrorist even though he was in critical condition!” His post received praise and mostly positive replies.
The ZAKA volunteer said in a statement, “When I see police forces identify the terrorist, I go first to the victims and I give them assistance. I really don’t care about the condition of the terrorist.”
He added, “To everyone who reacts negatively, I would like to hear what they would do if they got to the scene of a terror attack and saw, God forbid, their relative laying injured on the ground as the terrorist lies near him in critical condition. What would they do – help their relative or the terrorist first?”
He gave an example, saying that if a rescuer or first responder came to the scene of an accident and saw a relative hurt in moderate condition and another person wounded more seriously, then despite the rules in the field, the first responder would be more likely to help his relative.
Foxman added that he would treat Arab and Jewish victims indiscriminately.
ZAKA chairman Yehudah Meshi-Zahav said in response to Foxman’s comments, “We support him absolutely. He executed our directive to treat victims before treating a murderer. We support him and the rest of our volunteers who have done, and will do, the same thing.”