Dr. Tarek Abu Arar, a compassionate physician who generously volunteers with the Salvation Union, found himself in a harrowing predicament when he became the target of a shooting and hostage situation perpetrated by Hamas during the initial hours of the conflict last week. He narrowly escaped this life-threatening ordeal thanks to the timely intervention of the Israel Defense Forces.
On the morning of Saturday, October 7, Abu Arar received a call to urgently assume a shift at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
As he departed from his residence in Arara, situated in the Negev region, Abu Arar encountered an individual lying on the roadside near an intersection close to Sderot. Initially, he suspected the person needed medical assistance.
Shot in the chest
“At that time, no reports indicated any terrorist infiltrations,” he recounted. “Just twenty minutes earlier, I had received a vague warning, so I decided to put on the protective vest provided by the Rescue Union and proceed. Upon encountering the injured man by the roadside, my immediate instinct was to offer assistance.”
Approaching the wounded figure, the doctor thought that this person might be a soldier. A gunshot struck him in the chest when he had closed the distance to about ten meters.
In an instant, Abu Arar found himself thrust into a difficult situation. “I started shouting and praying, fully convinced that my life was hanging by a thread,” he recollected. “The gravity of the situation didn’t fully register until I heard someone shouting in Arabic, ‘Stop, stop, he’s an Arab.’ Then, I grasped the unsettling truth – these were Hamas militants.”
Looking over his shoulder, Abu Arar spotted approximately ten more individuals dressed in military garb emerging from concealment behind the bushes. They began questioning him in Arabic, testing his knowledge of Islam. These terrorists were armed with Kalashnikovs and possessed sophisticated military gear, donning green uniforms remarkably similar to those of the Israel Defense Forces.
The situation escalated as the militants placed him in the center of the intersection, announcing, “We now have a hostage; the IDF can no longer target us from the air.” Abu Arar was held captive, becoming an unwitting human shield for the terrorists.
“One of the insurgents shot me in the leg and ominously informed me that the next bullet would be aimed at my head,” he recounted. “I began to bleed profusely. Throughout this nightmarish ordeal, I clung to hope, believing that a miracle was the only way out, fully aware that my time might be running out.”
IDF to the rescue
Approximately 45 minutes later, a swift-response commando unit from the Navy arrived at the scene.
“They acted with remarkable efficiency, swiftly neutralizing the terrorists and pulling me back from the precipice of death,” Abu Arar recounted. “They skillfully applied a tourniquet to my wounded leg, and I was swiftly transported by ambulance to the Soroka Medical Center. After receiving prompt and skilled medical attention, I was discharged just a few hours later.”
“I have dedicated my entire life to the noble mission of saving and aiding others, both as a physician and as a dedicated volunteer with the rescue union,” he remarked. “To witness this dreadful tragedy unfold right before my eyes, helpless to intervene, was utterly horrifying. I find myself at a loss for words to adequately convey the depth of this horror; it was simply indescribable.”