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Israeli Volunteers Head into Harm’s Way to Help Citizens Under Fire


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During the recent war between Hamas and Israel, millions of Israelis lived literally in the line of fire when Hamas fired more than four thousand rockets at southern and central Israel.  While the rockets fell, one organization called United Hatzalah went into harm’s way to help those in need. 

In one video, Gavy Friedson, the US Spokesman for United Hatzalah described the scene just after one of the rockets hit: “My name is Gavy Friedson, I’m a medic with United Hatzalah and I’m here right now in Sderot where just a few minutes ago a rocket directly hit this home here.  As you can see, it penetrated the house.”

United Hatzalah is Israel’s largest volunteer emergency service.  They strive to respond to emergencies within three minutes and Friedson, like dozens of other volunteers, raced to the front lines during the 11-day war in May.   

“We were able to respond to any rocket that had a direct hit where there were many injuries from shrapnel.”

He added, “The entire country was almost taken hostage, making sure that they were in close proximity to a bomb shelter just in case a rocket falls.”

Like millions of Israelis, they too had to run for shelter as sirens wailed, and for those who live right next to the border, they have only 10 seconds to seek shelter when the alarm sounds.   

“Being down south, I got a whole new look at 10 seconds, being able to run in 10 seconds, going to the bathroom and only having 10 seconds.  I mean, this is a way of life for the people who’ve been down south for a long time.” 

The co-founder of United Hatzalah, Mark Gerson, told CBN’s George Thomas why the organization helped Israelis under fire during the war. 

“We’re doing that because our brethren in Israel, the people that we love in Israel are being attacked by Hamas terrorists from the south and the heroes of Hatzalah are rushing into the fire to help their neighbors in need.” 

CBN News has reported on United Hatzalah in the past when we rode with them through the streets of Jerusalem.  Their modified motor scooters called “ambucycles” allow them to reach the scene of an emergency within three minutes or less.  They have 6,000 volunteers throughout the country that respond at a moment’s notice.     

Gerson explained, “It’s an extremely effective system.  the most precious moments following a trauma are the first three minutes, in those precious moments that separate life and death. Consequently, on a normal day when we are doing 1900 calls a day, we’re able to save about 200 lives a day and that [was] multiplied during this crisis.”  

Friedson knows Israel is fighting an enemy committed to its goal of genocide. 

“They scream at the top of their lungs that they would like to see Israel be annihilated and completely gone from the earth and washed into the see.  I mean, this is part of the rhetoric.”

Despite the danger, he says, they choose life. 

“Every day, our medics in United Hatzalah have a love for life that I’ve never seen before. I get to see that every single day. That’s what we do.  We spend our time trying to save lives but being down south with rockets flying over your head, it just boosts that feeling of your appreciation of every single day as a blessing.”


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About The Author

Chris Mitchell

In a time where the world's attention is riveted on events in the Middle East, CBN viewers have come to appreciate Chris Mitchell's timely reports from this explosive region of the world. Chris brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world. He first began reporting on the Middle East in the mid-1990s. Chris repeatedly traveled there to report on the religious and political issues facing Israel and the surrounding Arab states. One of his more significant reports focused on the emigration of persecuted Christians from the Middle East. In the past