A fragmentation grenade was discovered in the pants pocket of one of two Syrians who were evacuated to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed on Thursday after being severely injured during the fighting in their war-torn country.
The IDF medical team, which treated the patient until his arrival at the hospital emergency room, removed the man's shirt due to wounds to his hip, and he arrived at the hospital shirtless. While being treated, the grenade was found in his pants pocket. The emergency and trauma wards of the hospital were cleared and sappers who were called to the scene detonated the grenade.
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Chen Amsalem, a stretcher bearer at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, was the one who found the grenade on the wounded Syrian's person.
As part of his work, Amsalem frequently strips patients of their clothing and while collecting the Syrian man's garments he felt that the man's black jeans were heavy.
Amsalem: 'Pants felt too heavy' (Photo: Hannah Bickel)
"I lifted the ripped pants from the floor and felt they were very heavy. Something didn't add up. I told myself that it must be a cell phone, no way the pants could be so heavy," Amsalem recalled.
After peaking into the pants pockets, Amsalem noticed the explosive: "I yelled out to everyone to evacuate the room, and called hospital security.
Ziv ER after sappers disarm grenade (Photo: Hannah Bickel)
"The grenade looked new, functional and heavy; it was silver colored. The safety-catch was still in place and I didn't want to touch it anymore.
"This is the third or forth Syrian hospitalized during my shifts, they always come dressed as civilians, with empty pockets. Once we found an ID card and some cash," Amsalem concluded.
The Syrian was rushed to the Israeli hospital with another Syrian citizen who was injured in the fierce battles on the other side of the border. Syrian state television reported that "the Israeli occupation has taken wounded terrorists into the occupied territories."
Natan Kuzai, a nurse, took care of the second wounded Syrian taken in by the hospital. "He was conscious upon arrival but didn't explain how he was wounded. For us, it is irrelevant where they came from – for us they are just patients."
Watching Quneitra in Golan Heights (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
The Quneitra crossing, the only border crossing between Israel and Syria, was seized by Syrian rebels Thursday morning, yet President Bashar Assad's forces regained control over the border crossing within a few hours. Meanwhile in "Old Quneitra," the only Syrian city close to the Israeli border, fierce battles were raging between rebel forces and Assad's army. During the fighting, a UN inspector was injured when a mortar shell hit a UN camp located at the Syrian-Israeli border.
(Photo: Avihu Shapira)
The Syrian side of the border crossing is located some 70 meters (230 feet) from an IDF post, and in between there is a UN post. Throughout the past year, the IDF has constructed a new and high fence as well as cement towers in the border crossing area.
The Israeli army has instructed farmers working in the vicinity of the Quneitra border to keep away from the area. In addition, parts of northern highway 98 were closed to traffic, and plantation areas near the Syrian border were closed as well.
The border crossing, which is a symbol of Assad's power in the Golan Heights, is considered to be a major target for the rebel forces. The city of Quneitra itself, which is adjacent to the border, is considered a strategic place in terms of controlling the entire area of the Golan Heights. The rebel forces in the north and south of the Golan Heights have concentrated their efforts in those areas, however as time passes, they have gotten closer to the center of the Golan Heights in order to conquer Quneitra.
The border crossing itself, supervised by UN forces, is closed to pedestrians and journalists.
Maor Buchnik contributed to the report
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