Nedal Sader, a Muslim EMS volunteer with United Hatzalah who lives near the Temple Mount complex, was the first responder to arrive at the scene of the Friday morning, July 14 terror attack. Under fire from terrorists, he risked life and limb to help those in need of medical aid.
“I was getting dressed when I heard the gunshots,” he said. “I thought to myself there was no way the gunshots were coming from the Temple Mount; they must be coming from outside of the Old City. I ran downstairs and asked some of the security guards in the area if they knew what was happening. They replied in the negative. The shots continued and this time I distinctly heard them coming from the direction of the Temple Mount.”
Sader, one of 300 Muslim volunteers with United Hatzalah, lives in a building that borders the wall supporting the Temple Mount. “I jumped on my ambucycle and raced toward the first entrance to the Temple Mount closest to where I live,” he explained.
“A police officer ushered me in and pointed to where some of the injured lay. As I headed in that direction, a second officer motioned for me to come and treat an officer who was sprawled on the ground but I couldn’t get there, even though it was only about 10 meters away, because there was still a gun battle happening and bullets were flying.”
Sader waited for about a minute until the gunshots died down and then crossed over to the injured officer. When he arrived he saw there was nothing he could do for the man. Sader then saw a group of men sprawled on the floor not far away. He was about to begin treating one of them when an officer told him to back away as the men were terrorists and were not yet secured. The officer then told Sader to enter the gateway of the Al-Aqsa mosque where another officer needed assistance. Sader headed over and began to perform CPR on an unconscious officer suffering from a gunshot wound.
“As I was performing CPR,” said Sader, “the terrorist I had been about to treat got up and tried to stab some police officers. The officers promptly shot him.”
Sader added, “I was joined by other United Hatzalah volunteers, members of the Red Crescent, the Israeli ambulance service, and police officers who rushed to the site. We performed CPR on the officer for about 15 minutes before he was evacuated by ambulance teams.”
Sader has responded to numerous terror attacks in his five years of volunteering with United Hatzalah but this was the first one on the Temple Mount
“As an EMT who has an ambucycle in the Old City,” he said, “I respond to all the major terrorist attacks around the Old City and the Damascus Gate. I’ve been to at least six or seven such attacks since the beginning of the year.”
Sader joined the organization after an incident in which his father suffered a heart attack five years ago and it took an ambulance more than 40 minutes to arrive at his house in the Old City. “I told myself that I never want that to happen to my family or my community, or anyone in Israel, ever again.”
Sader is a truly dedicated volunteer who drops whatever he is doing in order to save the lives of others. A practicing Muslim, husband, and father of five, he works in the Orthodox city of Beitar Illit in Judea as a nurse practitioner in charge of the Shabbat shift. Respectful of the religious views of others, he refrains from smoking and talking on his cell phone while on shift in Beitar in order to avoid offending residents of the city.
“The Temple Mount is a place of prayer and worship and it should be respected,” he said. “It is not the place for violence and I am saddened that this act of violence took place there.”
Sader said he’s constantly asked why he works for an Israeli EMS organization. “They say I am a father of five and that I already work for the community to help others. So why do I volunteer? I tell them there is no feeling like the feeling you get when you help another person. Saving a life is the highest calling in both Islam and Judaism. Both religions believe that if you save a life you have saved an entire world.
“How can I not volunteer? It is the most important calling and I am very happy that United Hatzalah gave me the opportunity to be a part of this life-saving revolution taking place in Israel.”