The vice president of the Federation of the Red Cross and the president of the Italian Red Cross, Francisco Rocha, visited a Magen David Adom station in Ashdod on Sunday. Rocha met with the chairman of the Executive Committee of Magen David Adom, Dr. Noam Yifrach, MDA officials, district management and workers and volunteers of the Lachish district of MDA, some of whom are residents of the Gaza Envelope region. He heard from them about the difficult period the region has experienced under constant rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip.
Ravit Martinez-Amitai, an MDA paramedic and resident of Kibbutz Erez, related: “I’m a mother of two, an MDA paramedic and I’ve lived on Kibbutz Erez for the past 10 years. Life on my kibbutz became so unbearable that I moved my family away from the kibbutz and remained there myself to be able to treat the wounded. It is impossible to describe the fear we live under. But this is my home and I will stay here and continue to treat injured people.”
Racheli Cohen-Ikar, a paramedic in the Lachish Region for MDA and a mother of eight, spoke of the difficult dilemmas she faces each day as a mother: “We have eight children, and our reinforced room has place for only four. Each evening, I have to decide which children will be able to sleep in that room, and which ones will not sleep calmly that night.”
MDA volunteer Avia Chetzroni, a good friend of Zev Etzion, z”l, who was killed by a mortar just before the ceasefire took effect: “I have been an MDA volunteer for 37 years and I had to bid goodbye to a friend, an ambulance driver, who was killed half an hour before the ceasefire, while carrying out his job. Over my years as a paramedic and ambulance driver, I treated every person who needed help, Israeli or Palestinian, friend or terrorist. We fought for the lives of the injured for 50 days and we will continue to fight for the life of every injured person, whoever he is.”
Earlier in the day, Rocha was impressed as he observed MDA transfer 33 injured people from Gaza from the Erez Crossing to Ben Gurion Airport, as part of Israel’s humanitarian gestures.
At the end of his visit, Rocha said: “I came to learn more about Magen David Adom’s activities during the conflict. The workers and volunteers at MDA worked exceptionally well, at risk to their lives, for the population in Israel, and we, at the international movement of the Red Cross, are full of admiration for their work.”
The executive director of MDA, Eli Bin, summarized the meeting by saying, “Throughout the war, MDA personnel worked everywhere, with bravery, and sometimes under a hail of rockets and at risk to their lives. What stood in their mind’s eye was saving lives and providing humanitarian aid to every population that needed it. MDA will continue to be there for the citizens of the state, and its workers and volunteers will continue to be a source of pride for us all.”