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Ethical Question: Let Pregnant Woman Through Border Crossings?

April 14, 2008

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In itself, the answer is yes. Why wouldn’t you let a pregnant woman go through your borders to a hospital? Imagine the following situation:

You are an 18-year-old soldier commanding a checkpoint in Israel. An ambulance arrives, and inside is a woman who is seemingly pregnant. The woman appears to be in pain and her husband is also highly anxious. But you have been warned about an ambulance bearing a pregnant woman who is not really pregnant.

The intelligence said that underneath the stretcher in the ambulance a wanted terrorist is hiding with an explosive belt for a suicide attack. It is a hot day and there is a long line of cars. Your commanders are yelling at you on the two-way radio, “Do not let ambulances go through because there is a terrorist in an ambulance!” To complicate the picture, a news video crew is present.

You have to make an incredible number of decisions in a very short time. You are only 18 years old and have no medical training. You know that if you let the ambulance go through and it contains a terrorist, then innocent people will die and you will have failed in your mission. On the other hand, if there is not a terrorist in this particular ambulance, and you delay a truly pregnant woman from reaching a hospital, the lives of the mother and baby could be endangered.

What would you do?

Before you answer, here’s a bit of undisputed facts (and these are only a few examples):

In January, 2002, Wafa Idris blew herself up on the crowded Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, becoming one of the first female suicide bombers. She was an ambulance driver for the Palestinian Red Crescent, as was Mohammed Hababa, the Tanzim operative who sent her on her mission. She left the West Bank by way of an ambulance.

On May 17, 2002, an explosive belt was found in a Red Crescent ambulance at a checkpoint near Ramallah. The bomb, the same type generally used in suicide bombings, was hidden under a gurney on which a sick child was lying. The driver, Islam Jibril, was already wanted by the IDF, and admitted that this was not the first time that an ambulance had been used to transport explosives or terrorists. According to Jibril, he was given the bomb by Mahmoud Titi, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which the U.S. State Department has listed as a terrorist organization, and which is affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.

The bomb was removed from the ambulance and detonated in the presence of a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In a statement issued the same day, the ICRC said that it “understands the security concerns of the Israeli authorities, and has always acknowledged their right to check ambulances, provided it does not unduly delay medical evacuations.” The sick passengers in the ambulance were escorted by soldiers to a nearby hospital.

On April 16, 2003, an Israeli Border Policeman was lightly wounded by a Palestinian terrorist who opened fire at a patrol of Border Police in Jenin. “The terrorist opened fire from within an ambulance as it passed near the patrol and then drove away.”

You can read more examples of Palestinian usage of ambulances for terrorism here.

Leave your responses in the comment section (I always answer any questions) and feel free to email me at realisrael@gmail.com with any question.

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5 comments

  1. An Ethical Dilemma: Pregnant Woman or Terrorist (or Both)? | politikly.com…

    \r\nIsrael is often criticized for forcing ambulances to go throuh security checks when crossing int…


  2. Ten lives are more important than one.

    Don’t let her pass.


  3. Wait ’til they start making pregnant belly shaped bomb belts. That’ll put the question to rest.


  4. […] Real Israel There’s more to Israel that what you see in the news « Ethical Question: Let Pregnant Woman Through Border Crossings? An Israeli Aparheid – Debunked. Part 1 – Definitions and History » Are Palestinians […]


  5. “pregnant belly shaped bomb belts” you say?
    That’s been done already.



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