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2006-08-07

As Hezbollah Rocket Attacks Kill 15 in Northern Israel, An Israeli Red Cross Official Describes Haifa Under Siege

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After the bloodiest day for Israel in the Middle East Conflict, the Israeli death toll has topped 75. Twelve soldiers were killed Sunday in the town of Kfar Giladi and three civilians were killed in Haifa. As the world awaits an official comment from Tel Aviv on a long-awaited UN ceasefire proposal, we go to Haifa to speak to Erez Gellar of the Israeli relief service Magen David Adom. [includes rush transcript]

On Sunday, the US and France reached a long-awaited agreement for a draft ceasefire resolution in Lebanon. While Tel Aviv has yet to officially comment on the draft, Beirut has opposed the resolution because it fails to call for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese soil. Meanwhile Sunday was the deadliest day for Israel since the war began nearly a month ago. 12 soldiers in the town of Kfar Giladi and three civilians in Haifa were killed by Hezbollah rockets. Erez Gellar, Paramedic Supervisor for the Israeli branch of the Red Cross: Magen David Adom, joins us from Haifa where he has spent the past several days directing relief efforts.

  • Erez Gellar. Paramedic supervisor with Magen David Adom. He is based in Haifa.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Early this morning, we reached Erez Gellar, paramedic supervisor for the Israeli relief organization, Magen David Adom, in Haifa.

EREZ GELLAR: Obviously, people are exhausted. We’re working at least twelve hours a day. Yesterday, at approximately 7:48 p.m., we got an alarm in Haifa, and we had bombs all over Haifa and in the suburbs. We had downtown fallings and on the Carmel Mountain one street was hit by a bomb.

Now, basically, we had to send the teams outside, because we got another phone call to the emergency numbers, but we weren’t able to send them out, because [inaudible] having a bomb falling on Haifa. After two minutes, we had to send them outside. Everything was quiet. We had eight different locations, eight remote locations. And at the end of all the events, we had three casualties, two seriously wounded, four moderate, 38 minor wounded, and 44 with anxiety attacks. The number of the anxiety attacks went up to around 80 or 90 patients. And as we came back to the station, we spoke to the teams. A lot of guys were actually afraid, because some of the bombs fell less than 20 meters from the station. Everything moved in the station. They heard a big blast. They were very afraid.

And after, like, something like this, [inaudible] outside and treat, it’s very difficult. And the problem was that we had to treat four or five scenes that were located downtown in an old place, an old street with old buildings, and it’s very crowded over there and the streets are very small, very narrow. And it was very tough to bring all the ambulances inside with the police and the fire department, and we had fire over there and gas leaks and electricity wires on the street. So basically what we had yesterday is something very big, and this is actually the most difficult event that we had so far in Haifa.

If you provoke, the way they provoked us — kidnapped soldiers, start an attack on villages after few months of quiet, and not that everything is quiet, but it’s not a good quiet, it’s not a good silence. It’s — I don’t know, it’s something you shouldn’t start. So the minute they started their actions and they provoked us and kidnapped soldiers, Israel had to basically defend, so we had to act, and then it became something bigger. And I’m not a general or something, but after a few days, we found ourselves in the middle of the war. So, this is the first time Haifa has to deal with something that is so big, like yesterday or like three weeks ago.

We had crazy scenarios and we had a lot of simulations with the police and the fire department, but never — if you asked me, like if you came to me a few years ago and asked me, "Do you think it’s going to happen? I mean, like rockets on Haifa?" I would have said, "Never."

I see sometimes in the streets people who — they’re against — against what we’re doing over there and people that are for all the actions over there. And I don’t really have time to see what’s going on, and I don’t even have time to watch the news, but what I do know is that people are — we’ve had enough, basically. It’s like we are getting all the bombs, and obviously, of course, soldiers are being killed and injured over there in Lebanon, both sides. But it’s enough. The citizens in Haifa and in Lebanon, they’re getting strikes, we’re getting strikes. It’s too much. Hopefully it will be over soon.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Erez Gellar of the Israeli Red Cross, Magen David Adom.

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