As printed in the Jewish Press:

Unfortunately, Israel has suffered from all too many terror attacks. One might think it would be natural for a society that has suffered as many attacks as Israel has to become desensitized to such atrocities.

Israel, however, has not succumbed to such a fate.

Our enemies commit attack after attack with the intent to kill, to maim, and to demoralize us.

We fight back, day after day, by uniting to save lives and creating a society of proper coexistence rather than a society of hate.

United Hatzalah volunteers
United Hatzalah volunteers

It is no secret that trauma can build hate – a natural reaction when suffering and tragedy are inflicted on us by others, especially if the perpetrator is of a different race or nationality than ours.

The mission of United Hatzalah of Israel is not only to treat the injured but also to build up communities. We achieve our goal by uniting people from various backgrounds, religions, and socio-economic groupings and point them all to one main goal: saving lives.

Our community-based responder program is based on the idea that people in the community – in any community – can join together and form a network of trained individuals committed to saving lives. With the proper training and medical equipment, “regular” everyday people can become heroes in their own communities.

Our heroes – those who leave their jobs, families, and personal lives to rush out at any given moment and save others – are Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, and Christians. They hold different beliefs and speak different languages. Together, they increase the resiliency of their own communities in the face of tragedy.

When people of such diverse backgrounds all come together as part of a national volunteer first-response organization, they increase the resiliency of the whole country.

On Sunday, January 8, many of our Jerusalem-based Arab volunteers immediately responded to the terrorist truck attack that killed four young soldiers and treated those in need.

Whether it was by directing operations from our dispatch-and-command center or treating people on the ground, all of us – secular Jews, national religious Jews, haredi Jews, and secular and religious Arab and Christian volunteers – worked together to provide the fastest, most comprehensive, and professional response possible.

That was only to be expected, though, as our volunteer medics are always first on the scene and treat all patients without charging them for our services.

We know these attacks leave lasting marks on our society and on the people who suffer needlessly at the hands of terrorists, and we know that not all injuries are physical. That is why United Hatzalah built a team of professionally trained volunteers whose job it is to stabilize those who suffer or witness trauma.

The team treats shock victims, family members, eyewitnesses, bystanders, and even our own EMS teams. This unit – we call it our Psychotrauma Unit – has taken upon itself the task of providing psychological treatment as fast as possible. For those affected by the scene of an attack, the treatment takes place at the location of the trauma.

Our experienced volunteers have become used to seeing these scenes, but one never really becomes desensitized. To the contrary, we mobilize. Every scene is shocking, and every scene is different, and we need to help all who need us – in whatever way we can and regardless of who they are –in order to minimize the damage done by those who wish to harm us as a unified people.

When a terrorist drives back and forth over his victims in order to cause more damage, he wants not only to kill men, women, and children but also to shatter our resolve as a people. Our response should be to come together as a people to save as many lives as we can, to comfort one another, and to build together.

While they attempt to shatter, destroy, and kill, we continue to treat, to save, to unify – and in that effort, we will be victorious.

– Eli Beer, Founder and President of United Hatzalah