Terrorist First, Victim Later

Uproar over Israel Medical Association decision that could lead to treatment of terrorists before their victims

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Yesterday’s lead headline in the daily Israel Hayom announced a dramatic change by the Israel Medical Association’s Ethics Board regarding “triage” – the sorting and treating battle casualties according to urgency. 

The 2013 Israel Medical Association (IMA) ethical code regarding multi-casualty terror attack says that in such events the notion of “charity begins at home” is to be applied. This principle demands treatment of wounded victims first, and wounded terrorists later. 

This Jewish ethical principle contradicts the international concept of sorting patients according to urgency alone. Triage, blind to the identity of the wounded, leads to the possibility of treating a perpetrator first and his victim later. But that is precisely what the IMA has agreed to in its latest decision.

Like other international treaties regarding the ethics of armed conflict, the expectation to treat the wounded regardless of identity proves again the inadequacy of ethics established in the context of WWI and WWII.  

Quoted in Israel Hayom, Asa Kasher, known particularly as the author of the IDF ethical code, criticized the IMA Ethics Board for this dramatic change of policy. Kasher asserts that purely medical needs are never the only consideration. “Suppose there are two wounded,” he says, “one slightly worse than the other, the latter being the terrorist. Would you treat him first and the victim second? This is unthinkable … suppose in such a case the victim dies because the physician didn’t have time to treat him – we will tell the family that we are sorry, we didn’t have a choice but to treat the terrorist? This is absurd.”

Yisrael Beiteinu party chief Avigdor Lieberman called from his Facebook page for the resignation of the Ethics Board committee in lieu of their “shameful decision.” Rabbi Yuval Sharlo, who is a member of the Ministry of Health’s Ethics Committee, said that “in every case treatment should be given first to the attacked in the vicinity and only afterward to the attacker.”

The IMA Ethics Board, which in the past has worked closely with the Israeli chapter of Physicians for Human Rights and the International Red Cross, is now adopting the position of these two radical left-wing organizations whose political agenda stands behind their demand to impose pedantic medical ethics on Israel. 

This new demand, which inevitably will be ignored in many cases, is another tool in the ongoing campaign against Israel.


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