|Last Update: 26/05/2004 00:41|
|Police: Ambulance network smuggled PA officers into Israel|
|By Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service|
Police have uncovered a network that smuggled Palestinian Authority officers, including members of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's elite Force 17 personal protection unit, into Israel in fake ambulances.
Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat called the accusations "another attempt to undermine the Palestinian Red Cross and Red Crescent" and noted that Israel stops and thoroughly checks every ambulance that goes through a checkpoint.
"I don't know why such accusations are being leveled at this time, when they are not even allowing patients to reach medical institutions," Erekat said.
Ma'aleh Adumim police recently arrested a man suspected of posing as an ambulance driver and illegally bringing into Israel dozens of Palestinians disguised as sick patients. The man, who holds Israeli citizenship, is a resident of Azzariyeh, a Palestinian village just east of Jerusalem. Police said additional arrests are expected.
The "patients" were hooked up to medical devices inside the ambulances and presented soldiers or police officers with forged documents at Israeli checkpoints.
Police believe that in one case, the Force 17 commander was smuggled from Azzariyeh into Israeli territory for a work meeting in East Jerusalem.
The arrested man was employed by an ambulance company controlled by Force 17 that operates three ambulances.
A police probe revealed the detainee does not hold an ambulance driver's license and that the license plates of his vehicle were forged. The vehicle itself was likely stolen.
Police recently raided an Azzariyeh warehouse in which commercial vehicles were transformed into ambulances.
I guess Arabkat just hasn't gotten around to viewing any video of this yet.