THE ISRAEL REPORTMay/June 2000
Open Letter to Security and Rescue Personnel of the State of Israel -Tzahal, the GSS, Police andBorder Police, Firefighters, Medical and Rescue TeamsDear Sir,
As public figures and citizens of the State of Israel who respect your work and salute you for your devotion, we are turning to you with a warning about a new and unprecedented situation which puts both you and us to an almost impossible test.
In the framework of the most recent agreements, the State of Israel has handed over the access road of Negohot, which lies near the Beer Sheba-Hebron Road, to complete Arab control. No legal authority at all remains to the security and rescue forces of the State of Israel (as opposed to the road leading to Netzarim, on which Israel maintains joint control). As is known, the Negohot road is a test case for all other roads which are to link the planned "settlement islands".
In other words, if a citizen of your country who lives in Negohot (and soon, in other places), calls for your assistance, you are not legally allowed to provide him with the assistance which you are duty-bound and trained to provide. All such assistance can be provided only on the authority of that Palestinian policeman who has received complete and exclusive control over this road.
Even if you are called to help a family wounded in a terror incident, to rush a woman in difficult labor to the hospital, or to save a house going up in flames, you will be unable to intervene. You will stand idly by, because legally your hands will be tied.
Unfortunately, these incidents are not imaginary. Remember the wounded at Ras Burka in the Sinai, shot by an Egyptian soldier. Remember the girls on the "island of peace" along the Jordanian border, who cried out and bled to death over the course of several hours, while Israel's rescue team was denied permission to go in and save them.
You are liable, G-d forbid, to be part of a new situation like this but much worse. Tragedies will occur not during school trips, but at the homes and work places of your fellow citizens, with whose personal security you have been charged.
What will you be able to explain to your Jewish relatives and brethren then? What will you tell yourself? That you receive a salary and must follow orders?
All security and rescue personnel receive uniform orders, without regard to their personal views. Otherwise we would not be able to have an army or a State. You are also entitled and obligated to receive a salary for the holy work that you do.
But remember one thing: You are not a machine!
As a person in uniform, it is forbidden for your political views to influence the performance of your task, but when you are prevented from rescuing any citizen of your country, you have to know that that is happening.
What can you do?
As stated, you should know what is happening. You need not disobey any order or take off your uniform.
Tell your superiors that what is happening is unacceptable to you, until your words penetrate and have an affect. Don't despair! In a Jewish country, as opposed to a dictatorship, you are not just a cog in the wheel. Even the word of a lone individual has meaning and influence.
Rabbi (former MK) Chanan Porat
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