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Front Page |  In Depth |  Middle East |  Voices from the conflict 
Voices from the conflict
Introduction
Mahmoud Shahin
Palestinian from Bethlehem
Ron
Israeli army reservist
Mohammed Bakri
Israeli Arab doctor
Yehuda Aslan
Israeli restaurant owner
Abu al-Abed
Palestinian militant
Gila Svirsky
Israeli peace activist
Rifka Goldschmidt
Israeli settler in Gaza
Map indicating Jerusalem

Yonatan Yagodovsky
Yonatan Yagodovsky is the Jerusalem manager of Magen David Adom - the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross or Red Crescent. He is 43 years old, married and a father of three children. He has been involved in Magen David Adom since the age of 16.

We deal with the day-to-day medical emergencies and non-emergencies - sick people, heart attacks, difficulties in breathing, all kinds of traumas from motor vehicle incidents to domestic problems and the treatment of the victims of terrorist attacks. This is becoming a greater and greater part of our work.

The main effect of these terrorist attacks on me personally is that I spend much more time at work. Also, I have much bigger crews on all the shifts which is a big strain on our personnel and resources. Sometimes when I am at home I am also at work.

I have a lot of experience. The first event I was exposed to was 27 years ago - a terrorist explosion in the centre of Jerusalem. Seeing babies that are critically injured, looking at pregnant women or old people that are injured... it is not so easy.
Listen to audio Real 28k 
Recently [Friday 12 April] I was on my way with my family to visit my in laws when we got the call that there was a bomb attack at Mahane Yehuda market. I immediately turned the car round and raced back to Jerusalem. My family went on to stay with my wife's parents and I went the whole weekend without them. This is a problem that all of us carry on our shoulders. It's not just that we are at work. It is all of our families that are now affected.

On arrival at the scene of a bomb attack, I have to make sure, as far as possible, that our medical crews are safe. It's a worry that there might been a second explosion. The second task, the most difficult, is to determine first who of the victims are salvageable, who are the people we have to work hard on to perform life saving procedures, and who are not salvageable - meaning we should not put a lot of effort into treating them because it's clear that we won't be able to save them. All the rest of the casualties will be treated a few minutes later.

Israeli medics treat the wounded at the site of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in January 2002 But first of all it's sorting the priorities at the scene. Sometimes this is extremely difficult because we have a lot of critically ill patients, especially when the event occurs in a closed area or between buildings. The explosion in this case causes many more problems, especially internal injuries. Then we have life-saving procedures and the beginning of the evacuation of the patients to the hospitals.

Personally, this work does not effect me negatively. I know exactly what I am supposed to do, I know what my people are good at and the experience can be really tremendous. The amount of personal devotion that our medical personnel give is wonderful. But of course, there are scenes at the event that do affect you.

I have a lot of experience. The first event I was exposed to was 27 years ago was a terrorist explosion in the centre of Jerusalem. Seeing babies that are critically injured, looking at pregnant women or old people that are injured… it is not so easy.

But the thing that each of us has to do is put your personal feelings aside and do the job. Afterwards we think about it, we talk among ourselves. This is the way in which we support each other. People think that Magen David Adom is a family, a very crazy family.

I never let my personal feelings or political views have an impact on my day-to-day work. We have a very good relationship with the Palestinian Red Crescent. People just don't believe how close these ties are and they started many years ago. And Magen David Adom, has for many years, much before the Oslo agreement, given course and training to Palestinians. There are many people we know on a personal basis.

We continue helping Israelis with medical supplies. Also during this year, we have helped with the co-ordination of the International Committee of the Red Cross here in Israel. We receive ambulances and equipment and deliver it to our Palestinian colleagues.

In our day to day work, we still treat Palestinians, even in the territories and there have been times when the Palestinian Red Crescent has treated Israelis, even soldiers. We have good working relationships and we will continue these, even though it is not so easy sometimes - there are many obstacles and there are safety issues.

They say that there is a catastrophe and the civilians are suffering, but we are taking care of the civilians and this is what we are proud of. The political and the military situation is not preventing us from doing our work.

I hesitate about a Palestinian state because of all the uncertainties. Since Oslo there has been a step-by-step process to a Jewish and Palestinian state. But what we got in return was suicide bombers, terrorist attacks, drive-by shootings, a lot of murders.
Listen to audio Real 28k 
I was born in Jerusalem - I have lived all my life here. My mother was born here, my father came here from Poland when he was very young in the 30s. I have quite a lot of friends in East Jerusalem.

Before this recent intifada, people began to live a normal life, a better life. We had lot of tourists here, people looked forward to something, people raised their children, on both sides, in a much safer environment. Now I walk in the old city, I try to find my friends who are mostly merchants and I know that they are hardly making a living. It's the same here in West Jerusalem. The impact of the violence on the economy is very bad.

But I don't know if it is right to create a Palestinian state. On a personal level, I hope the Palestinians get what they want, but on the security and political level there are a lot of problems. These should be solved and then things will change for the better.

People who live here want to continue living here and they want to live well. They want to continue raising their children and that their children should have a future. The state of Israel developed and built itself from nothing in 55 years of continuous war and has become a modern state in many ways.

At the same time, there are good people on the Palestinian side. There are Palestinians working in hospitals in Jerusalem, saving the lives of Jews and Arabs without any discrimination. We have Palestinians in Magen David Adom, Christians and Muslims. And they are part of us as we are part of them. We are part of a crazy family.

I hesitate about a Palestinian state because of all the uncertainties. Since Oslo there has been a step-by-step process to a Jewish and Palestinian state. All types of Israeli Governments took these steps, left or right. Even though these were not easy, like the settlements issue, we were ready to make these concessions.

But what we got in return was suicide bombers, terrorist attacks, drive-by shootings, a lot of murders. You cannot say that they were fighting their liberation war, because the state of Israel was on course or allowing them in the years to come to develop into a state.

Developing a state is also difficult for the Palestinians. There is not a strong political regime. There are a lot of different groups. This is okay in a democratic regime, but their regime is not a democratic regime and it is very difficult for us to deal with them. Their different groups are mainly hostile to us. The state of Israel cannot give everything and simply ruin itself.


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