Bomb Found in Red Crescent Ambulance

A Palestinian ambulance was found carrying a bomb near Jerusalem on Friday. The bomb was hidden under a gurney on which a sick Palestinian child was lying. The driver confessed that these was not the first time that ambulances had been used to carry bombs.

The bomb was taken out of the ambulance and detonated in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "The ICRC 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 ICRC said in a statement on Friday. The Red Crescent expressed shock at the incident, and said they had started an internal investigation.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the driver, Islam Jibril, 31, who was already on the IDF's blacklist, confessed to have tried to smuggle in the bomb. He admitted both that this was not the first time that an ambulance was used to transfer terrorists and bombs, and that Red Crescent workers are sent on terror missions, a charge that until now the Red Cross and Red Crescent have forcefully rejected.

Jibril said the bomb - configured as a belt to be worn by a suicide bomber - was given to him by Mahmoud Titi of the Al Aqsa Brigades. Sources in Nablus, affiliated with Titi, told Ha'aretz yesterday that they do not transfer weapons through IDF checkpoints and do not use ambulances, because checks at the checkpoints, and especially those of ambulances, are thorough.

Apparently, the ambulance, on its way from Nablus to Ramallah, went through four other checkpoints before the bomb was uncovered. Jibril was driving his sister-in-law and her three little children - one very sick. A physician, Dr. Rassan Hamdan, was sitting with the driver in front. According to Hamdan, soldiers searched the ambulance at the Hawara checkpoint outside Nablus, but did not check the IDs of the passengers or the driver. The ambulance then went through three other checkpoints, uninterrupted.

"A jeep suddenly sped scarily toward us, and signaled to us with its headlights. The soldiers got off the jeep and started shooting in the air. We stopped, and they shouted at us in Hebrew to get out of the vehicle," Hamdan said. The IDF reserve soldier who stopped the ambulance said that he became suspicious because the ambulance was driving very fast, but did not turn on the siren. When the ambulance did not stop despite the signals, the soldiers fired shots in the air, he told Ha'aretz.

Two or three hours later Hamdan, the woman and the three children were allowed to return to Ramallah.