Did you hear about that time the Israel Defense Forces came to the aid of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria at the request of the Palestinian Authority during a heavy snowstorm? Did you see soldiers pushing a Palestinian taxi out of the snow? Odds are you missed this story, and many others like it that show how Palestinians cooperate with the IDF (Zahal).
Cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces is something that is usually glanced at or completely forgotten about in the international media. It is important to recognize that the IDF (Zahal) is an army with a great moral compass, and takes many intiatives to serve Israelis and non-Israelis alike. There are many examples of cooperation between Palestinians and the IDF (Zahal).
Here are 5 encouraging story that display cooperation between the IDF (Zahal) and Palestinians.
1. A heavy snowstorm leads to cooperation between the IDF (Zahal) and the Palestinian Authority
In January 2015, a heavy snowstorm hit the region of Judea and Samaria, piling up a lot of snow that made it impossible to drive. After declaring a state of emergency, the Palestinian Authority sent in an official request to the IDF (Zahal) to help clear the roads, including the main road leading to Ramallah. The PA sent in the request to the Israel Civilian Administration which cooperated with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Unit (COGAT). After a few hours of joint activity, the roads and floods were cleared up.
2. COGAT decides to increase assistance and cooperation in Gaza Strip
Since the ceasefire on August 26th took place, Israel has facilitated access of approximately 66,000 tons of building materials. In recognition of the dire circumstances of the situation the residents of Gaza face in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge.
In October 2014, COGAT announced the expansion of of permits for people to cross into Gaza for reasons of reconstruction, agricultural export, exit of residents for academic studies, and the passage of medical teams. Recently, COGAT decided to expand on that decision with the transfer of agricultural products such as tractors, passage of building materials and agricultural exports into Judea and Samaria for economic commerce.
This is done with full knowledge that most building materials such as cement or the profit earned in these transfers can fall into the hands of terrorists.
3. Corneal Surgeries for 14 Palestinians Successful After Months of Planning
Surgery room in the St. John’s Hospital in Jerusalem during one of the cornea transplants
As of February 10th 2015, the Civil Administration in the Territories completed 14 corneal surgeries for Palestinians to restore proper eyesight. The health coordinator of the Civil Administration Unit coordinated with the Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria so that they could receive corneal surgery in St. John’s Hospital in eastern Jerusalem.
After months of logistical planning, the corneas arrived as a donation from the United States and were immediately brought into place for surgery. The corneas had only a few days until they expired, making an immediate transplant necessary. All 14 surgeries were a success, with patients of all ages, ranging from 6 years old to 84 years old.
Throughout 2014 the Civil Administration coordinated corneal transplants for 96 Palestinians in the St. John Hospital, which specializes in eye diseases.
4. IDF (Zahal) organizes course for Palestinian businessmen
In 2014, an import and export course was held for established Palestinian businessmen in order to teach and improve methods that will bolster their local economy. Palestinian export products from Judea and Samaria are one of the main contributors to their local economy, and in 2014 increased by 90% to international markets in comparison to the first half of 2013.
Twenty Palestinian businessmen and various tourism companies took part in the COGAT course that took place over a course of 8 meetings. They were taught professional content that included marketing strategies, market trends, and establishing partnerships in the international market.
“This last period has not been simple, and has involved a number of difficult incidents, but in spite of this the economics in the Judea and Samaria area were stable,” said Brig. Gen. David Menachem, the head of the Civil Administration, at the last meeting. “We will do everything in our power to improve and develop the local economy. We understand that a stable economy enables a stable security situation and leads to peace”.
5. Christmas Leads to Cooperation Between IDF (Zahal) and Palestinian Security Forces
Once a year, COGAT hosts a preparatory conference for the upcoming Christmas holiday between various IDF (Zahal) officials, Palestinian security forces, international organizations, and Christian representatives. The point of the conference is to discuss the central steps that are being taken for the holiday in order to ensure that the procedures and ceremonies are executed accordingly.
These steps include unlimited entry into Israel for the Christian population of Judea and Samaria strictly for the holiday season and hundreds of entry permits from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Due to the sensitivity of the season and the nature of the ceremonies taking place, security measures were increased and monitored carefully. The ceremonies bring around 170,000 visitors.
The coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF (Zahal) led to a safe and secure Christmas. The collaborative event enabled thousands of tourists to enjoy their holiday and was considered a great success.