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For a year and a half, the Palestine Red Crescent Society has been repeatedly accused by the Israeli army of misusing its ambulance services to smuggle arms and gunmen. It's a charge that is often picked up in the West and used to justify Israeli actions. And it's completely false. Lies are powerful weapons of war, and the Red Crescent does not have the resources or the network to continuously counter the prevailing media spin. The Israeli army has banned the media from most areas in Palestine, and even when respected organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch speak out, they are quickly dismissed as anti-Israeli.

Red Crescent Society operates the only national ambulance service in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. To date, four of the medical personnel have been killed and 170 have been injured in the course of their work. Twenty-eight ambulances have been destroyed. In four cases, medics responding to emergencies were dragged out of their ambulances and used as human shields in military operations.

Nevertheless, more than 3,000 medical professionals and volunteers have treated more than 20,000 Palestinians injured during the 18-month conflict. They have also cared for many Israeli soldiers and civilians. To date, 43 Israelis in 17 motor vehicle accidents and war-related incidents have been treated by the medics. Some of these services have been reported in the Israeli Hebrew press and the Jerusalem Post.

Despite this, the PRCS are frequently accused of fostering terror activities. To make matters worse, the Israeli army has engaged in a systematic disinformation campaign against the Red Crescent to justify crimes of war. Much of this has been documented by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which itself had to suspend operations this past April, citing Israeli army attacks on ICRC personnel and vehicles. Ambulance services have been repeatedly interrupted or suspended, resulting in frequent delays of more than 24 hours in reaching the sick and wounded. Most Red Crescent ambulances are blocked by Israeli checkpoints and are therefore not able to reach thousands of people who call us daily.

The Red Crescent is currently pursuing legal action for war crimes committed by the Israeli army. These crimes fall under the Fourth Geneva Convention and prosecutors will determine if these were individual criminal acts or a systematic policy. It may take months, even years, but eventually the truth about Jenin will surface. (Article shortened: Dr. Hossam Sharkawi, a Palestinian-Canadian, is director of national emergency and disaster services for the Palestine Red Crescent in the West Bank and Gaza).