West Bank communities refuse blood drives over MDA deal


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two communities in the West Bank refused to allow Magen David Adom to hold blood drives in their jurisdiction to protest MDA’s promise to the Red Cross to pull back operations in the West Bank.

Peduel and Tapuach, part of the Shomron Regional Council, instead organized a blood drive this week to send donations directly to a hospital blood bank in central Israel.

Under a 2005 memorandum of understanding signed by MDA and the Palestine Red Crescent Society with the International Committee of the Red Cross, MDA agreed not to operate in the West Bank as it does in pre-1948 borders Israel, and to remove the Star of David emblem from ambulances used in the area.

The memorandum has come to light in recent days.

"MDA will continue to operate as long as the state of Israel decides that there are citizens there. As it was yesterday, so it will be tomorrow," MDA Director-General Eli Binn told Israel National News, a pro-settler news service, on Monday. 

Volunteers from the West Bank have curtailed their hours in light of the memorandum and have replaced the Star of David on ambulances using decals.

In the memorandum, Israel is called an "occupier" and agrees that its ambulances can only be protected in Israel’s "internationally recognized borders." The memorandum also calls on MDA to "ensure that it has no chapters outside the internationally recognized border of the state of Israel."

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