United Hatzalah volunteer physician Tarek Abu Arar was held hostage for several hours and shot twice by Hamas terrorists on Saturday morning after they breached the border fence en masse and infiltrated southern Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, wounding thousands and taking as many as 150 hostages.
Arar, a resident of Arara BaNegev, was driving to his shift in the emergency room at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon on Saturday when at a junction near the Israeli city of Sderot, he came across a person who seemed injured on the side of the road next to a 4×4 vehicle.
“At that moment, there had been no reports of any infiltration,” recounted Arar. “Thankfully, we had just had a Red Alert siren about 20 minutes earlier, so I had decided to wear my bulletproof vest. But I initially thought it was a routine car accident, so I stopped on the side of the road in order to help.”
“Suddenly, as I got closer to the car, I saw about 50 meters away what looked like an Israeli soldier in uniform. He gestured to me to come to him. As I walked to him and was just 10 meters away, he suddenly shot me in the chest,” he said.
“I started shouting and praying, convinced that I was about to die,” he said. Then he heard someone shout in Arabic, ‘Stop, stop, he is an Arab!” “This is when I understood they were Hamas terrorists,” he added.
Ten more terrorists appeared from behind bushes. Ara said they interrogated him in Arabic and asked questions to check his knowledge of Islam.
“They attached me to a pole in the center of the junction and said, ‘That’s it, we have a hostage. The IDF cannot eliminate us from the air anymore,'” Arar said.
They began shooting at every car that passed, making sure to kill every occupant in the cars. This continued for two hours until the army arrived. There was a shootout between the terrorists and the soldiers, with Arar in the middle.
‘The worst experience of my life’
One terrorist then shot Arar in the leg and signaled that the next bullet would be in his head. Arar, who was bleeding profusely, said he was certain that he would die.
The IDF forces retreated, and 45 minutes later, a Yamam commando force arrived at the scene. They eliminated the terrorists and rescued the doctor. He was evacuated to Soroka Hospital and released a few hours later.
“This was the worst experience of my life. I have dedicated my life to helping others and saving lives, both in my profession as a doctor and my volunteering with United Hatzalah. To be forced to witness the horrible slaughter carried out in front of my eyes was terrible. I have no words to describe it,” he said.
Arar has volunteered as a doctor with United Hatzalah for more than a year. He is one of four United Hatzalah volunteers who were victims of the melee. One other was also a Muslim volunteer, injured and kidnapped by Hamas while providing medical coverage at the large music festival that took place over the weekend.
Another volunteer, Maor Shalom, was killed while trying to save lives after he was called up to duty as part of Israel’s security forces.