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Ambulance driver caught trying to illegally smuggle 8 Palestinians into Israel

Driver, a Jerusalem resident, had valid license and certificate of integrity

Palestinians hiding in an ambulance trying to illegally enter Israel (Photo: Screenshot/Israel Police)

An ambulance driver for a private ambulance firm in Israel was stopped by Israel Border Police at the Ofer Checkpoint outside of Jerusalem on Saturday night as he attempted to enter Israeli territory with eight Palestinians from Samaria. 

The Border Police was alerted after a driver saw the suspects entering the ambulance and he then called in a report. 

The ambulance driver and his assistant, who were both dressed as medical personnel, told police they were “on their way to a life-saving event” and asked not to be searched. 

The two also tried to avoid presenting ID cards, further arousing suspicion from the guards, who determined that no emergency had been reported in the area. 

After an examination, police discovered the eight Palestinian suspects, who were arrested along with the ambulance driver and his assistant. According to reports in Hebrew media, some of the eight Palestinians are former prisoners. 

All those involved were transferred to Border Police authorities and Israel's Security Agency (ISA), or Shin Bet, for further questioning. 

The ambulance driver is reportedly a Jerusalem resident. 

Israeli Minister of Health Uriel Buso of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, released a statement calling for the revocation of the ambulance driver’s license and that of the ambulance company. 

The private ambulance company announced the dismissal of the driver on Sunday morning

“To the astonishment of Hadera Ambulance Company, an employee from its services violated the company's trust,” it said in a statement. “Hadera recruited the employee to its services, after receiving warm recommendations from United Hatzalah [a volunteer EMS organization] and after the employee properly obtained a certificate of integrity.” 

Hadera said the employee had only been employed at the company for a few days and promised to “cooperate with the investigative bodies.” 

The owner of Hadera Ambulance, Raanan Ashtar, said the company had recently rehired the driver after past disciplinary issues. He had been rehired due to the letter of recommendation and the certificate of integrity. 

“This is a driver with an ambulance license. He carries a letter of recommendation and a certificate of integrity, I have no reason not to hire him,” Ashtar said. “It doesn't cross my mind when I get an ambulance driver to work. It never happened to us that they turned a life-saving ambulance into a transportation vehicle that smuggles in suspects.” 

United Hatzalah said the Ministry of Health does not regulate the issuing certifications for emergency medical services (EMS), which “allows various entities to operate without supervision and control, risking real harm to public health.” 

Since the beginning of the Gaza War, about 4,500 Palestinian suspects have been arrested in counter-terrorism operations throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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