‘The world needs to see that Hamas did this. We cannot keep quiet.’

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‘The world needs to see that Hamas did this. We cannot keep quiet.’

'People without hands or legs, with gunshot wounds to the face and stomach. People that were cut open, that were burnt.' 23-year old United Hatzalah volunteer tells Jewish News it's been the worst week of his life.

Pic: Shalom Avitan
Pic: Shalom Avitan

Shalom Avitan tells Jewish News the past week has been the worst of his life.

The 23-year old from Jerusalem has been volunteering as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) for United Hatzalah, the volunteer-based emergency medical services organization that operates free services throughout Israel, for three years. He’s also training to become a nurse.

On the phone to Jewish News just after Shabbat, after coming home “to get some sleep so that I could carry on”, he’s preparing to head out again to the volunteer hospital field full of tents in the south, close to the border with Gaza.

Pic: Shalom Avitan

Avitan says throughout the week, he has been working with “hundreds of volunteers. Doctors, EMT’s, paramedics.”

He tells Jewish News: “I can never imagine such a week in my life. Throughout the week we treated injured patients with terrible injuries. People without hands or legs, with gunshot wounds to the face and stomach. People that were cut open, that were burnt. Small kids from a few months old. The victims are from the main streets of Sderot and the highways leading to different cities. They were just shooting at the cars. Lots of cars were burnt out and people were hanging out of the cars. The smell is so terrible. We also treated injured soldiers.”

He shares a picture of his holding 10 month old twins who survived the massacre that saw their parents murdered.

“A soldier from special forces came out from the village of Kfar Aza with two babies in his hand and he just gave them to me.”

Shalom Avitan.

He says the babies were screaming and dehydrated.

“We gave them water. They were OK physically. They were so thirsty and clutching on to us so hard. Those babies were sent to social services to be taken care of. Right now what I heard is that the grandparents or the uncle have come to get them.”

A week after what is being described as the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust, Avitan says this week will likely present more injuries from rockets.

“We are very careful and scared about towns that have Arabs living with Israelis.  The mixed communities in Israel, such as Jerusalem, and the areas of Yehuda and Shomrom, where they all live together. We are worried this will push tensions over the edge. That there will be terror attacks.”

He says the support from the wider global Jewish community has been incredible.

“We feel all the Jews mostly are giving us help. Also money to help. Everything they could do. It was amazing to see it through the week. All the food they brought and the supplies to army bases. We are all brothers. It’s a beautiful thing.”

As he leaves for his shift, Shalom Vitan says he’s spoken to a lot of media outlets this week.

“There is one thing that is very disturbing. A lot of the news, they ask for videos for things that have happened. My heart cannot do such a thing. I ask why they want videos. They say it’s because people don’t believe. I was shocked that people deny what has happened. I couldn’t even believe people could deny such a thing when I’ve seen them for my own eyes. The world needs to see that Hamas did this. We cannot keep quiet.”

To support the work of United Hatzalah in Israel, click here.

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