PRCS’ volunteer Mohamad Ahmad Al Abadleh (28) did not know he was about to live a nightmare when a distress call came in to the PRCS’ EMS Center where he works about Israeli shelling in Al Karara, an area to the East of Khan Younis.
Mohamad joined PRCS as a volunteer four years ago in order to help fellow Palestinians. He took part in Advanced First Aid courses offered by PRCS to its volunteers, and then joined the Society’s Emergency Medical Teams, thinking that one day he will be able to save someone’s life. When the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip started, and as soon as PRCS declared a state of emergency in the Strip, Mohamad said goodbye to his wife and one year-old baby girl, put on his PRCS’ uniform and went out to help with rescue and relief efforts.
On Friday the 25th of July, at exactly 11:00 p.m., and following coordination with the ICRC, Mohamad and his colleagues rushed to Al Karara to provide assistance to a wounded Palestinian who was tied to a tree by Israeli soldiers. When they arrived at the scene, ICRC informed them that they had to dismount from the ambulance, use a hand torch and head on foot towards the heavily bleeding man. When they were just a few meters away from the wounded man, they came under direct Israeli fire despite their distinct PRCS’ uniforms and prior coordination through the ICRC with the Israeli authorities.
Mohamad and his colleagues tried to hide behind trees and amidst the rubble. Mohamad started crawling in search for a place to hide, shouting through his wireless radio that “they are shooting at us... we are under direct fire”.
A minute of dead silence followed, and Mohamad’s voice could no longer be heard. Two bullets had hit him in the heart and the leg. The radio fell from his hand, and his red uniform featuring the international emblem was covered in blood. He was bleeding heavily, but as he lay there pressing on his wounds in a futile attempt to stop the bleeding, he kept silently signaling to and looking at the wounded man whom he had come to save, as if to tell him not to worry. He was also watching his colleagues as they tried to reach him, but the heavy shooting came between them and Mohamad.
Five minutes later, two other ambulances arrived at the scene. Through their radios, they urged ICRC to coordinate with the Israelis to allow them into this battlefield where heavily armed soldiers fought a dying EMT. They tried for thirty minutes to reach their wounded colleague, but to no avail. Every time they would take a step closer, a hail of bullets was fired at them. Mohamad was left to bleed for thirty minutes, with his colleagues standing helplessly watching him and the Israeli army refusing to let help in. Finally, they managed to put Mohamad on a stretcher and take him in one of the ambulances to Nasser hospital in Khan Younes, where he was declared dead a few minutes later.
Mohamad died for no reason, his life was taken away by bullets which make no difference between civilians, EMTs and doctors. Mohamad died while still believing that his humanitarian work was protected by international conventions.
Mohamad left this world amidst the tears and dismay of fellow EMTs and volunteers. He gave his life to humanitarian work and bid the world a silent goodbye, without a kiss to his only child. He died wearing the PRCS’ EMTs uniform, with his pure soul fluttering over Al Karara.