An emergency Magen David Adom medical team was attacked by residents of Akko's old city Monday afternoon, while on their way to help a man who had collapsed at home. The assailants blocked the paramedics from entering his home and stole medical equipment. Although the gear was returned following the intervention of the sick man's family, the patient died on the way to the hospital in Nahariya.
Paramedics Yuval Sabag and Alon Horesh arrived at the 46-year-old man's house after family members placed an emergency call, saying that he had collapsed. "When we got out of the ambulance, we were surrounded, cursed at, spit on and pushed," recalled Sabag.
"Our medical gear was grabbed right out of our hands. It wasn't pleasant. There was a lot of hatred. It's not unthinkable that someone would have pulled out a knife," he said.
Rahamim Sidis, the regional station chief, instructed the team to stay in the area, even though they were unable to enter the home. Family members carried the man out on a stretcher and brought him to the ambulance.
In addition, the family ensured that the medical gear was returned. "We saw that he was in a tough state and started trying to resuscitate him. Sadly, he died on the way to the hospital," Sabag said.
"It's tough to say whether there's a link between the attack and the man's death, but it is certain that the time factor is critical in such cases and that it's more difficult to resuscitate someone effectively when you are afraid of being stabbed," he said.
According to Sabag, this is not the first time that he and team members have been attacked in the old city. As in previous incidents, the two paramedics, along with their station commander, filed a complaint with local police after transferring their charge to the hospital.
"Every time we submit a report, it's filed but nothing is done. This time, we expect the issue to be addressed," he said. "The problem is that even when such cases are tried, the punishment is not serious.
"Recently, a man attacked a paramedic who subsequently needed to take extended medical leave," Sabag recalled. "The assailant also attacked a policeman and the prosecutor agreed to a plea bargain requiring him to pay a fee of NIS 2,000 (less than $500). The fact that he'd attacked a paramedic wasn't even mentioned."