United Hatzalah head recounts efforts to save the wounded


 “I have been through almost every terror attack, says Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah, “but nothing compared to what I saw in the south on October 7.” In a phone interview with the Jerusalem Post, Beer recounted the horrific terror attack, the efforts of United Hatzalah volunteers to save the wounded, and the bipartisan support for Israel and United Hatzalah that he has received, both through his recent meeting with US President Joe Biden, and his discussions with Republican presidential candidates at the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership summit in Las Vegas.

On the morning of October 7, Beer was woken at 6:40 AM and learned about the missile attacks and terror attacks. He ran to the United Hatzalah dispatch offices and saw that the dispatcher on duty could not cope with the volume of distress calls. He quickly ordered all dispatchers to report, and 60 dispatchers were soon on duty. Beer continues: “We sent all our ambulances from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Raanana, and Netanya to the south. When they reached the area, the police said it was too dangerous to enter. Our volunteers asked me what to do. I said, ‘This is a war. You have to save people. Put on your bulletproof vests and helmets and take a gun if you have one.”

U.S. President Joe Biden shakes hands with Eli Beer, during a meeting with Israeli first responders, family members and other citizens directly impacted by the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023. (Credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

Beer himself joined the volunteers and recounts that his wife Gitty, who arrived in Sderot by 8:15, treated more than forty people, the majority of whom survived. “United Hatzalah volunteers were in the forefront of the battles, he adds. “Our volunteers entered kibbutzim, villages, and towns, putting their lives on the line to save innocent civilians.”

United Hatzalah has 900 volunteers in Israel’s south, and many of them placed their families in safe rooms and ran to save those who had been attacked. Several United Hatzalah volunteers were killed, two were kidnapped, and many family members of volunteers were kidnapped or murdered. “We suffered a great deal of tragedy during this crisis. No one ever imagined that we would see the things that we saw.”

The US Embassy invited Beer to meet with President Biden during his brief visit to Israel for a scheduled fifteen-minute report. The meeting, which included fifteen family members of murdered victims and those who were kidnapped, lasted over an hour. “President Biden was in tears when we hugged. I never saw a President cry,” says Beer. “I told him that we had over 1,000 volunteers in the south, and I told him a few of the stories of what we had seen.  He told me the pain that he had felt when he lost two of his children was the same pain that I was feeling now.”

Shortly thereafter, David Friedman, former US Ambassador to Israel, contacted Beer and invited him to report on the tragic events at the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership summit that was held last week in Las Vegas. Says Beer, “Matt Brooks, the CEO of the RJC, said, ‘Come and tell everyone what you did, and what happened. Don’t spare anything.’”

When he arrived in Las Vegas, Beer met with Dr. Miriam Adelson, a long-time United Hatzalah supporter, who arranged a private meeting with former President Donald Trump. “I told him what we saw,” says Beer. “The murdered babies, the beheaded children – gruesome things. “He was shocked. He couldn’t believe it. It was the first time he had heard first-hand what had taken place. He offered his condolences to the Israeli people.”

Trump told Beer that Iran is the “head of the snake,” which has to be cut off. After their meeting, Trump hugged him. Quips Beer, “I am the only guy in the world who received a hug from both President Biden and former President Trump in the same week.”

During his visit to the RJC, Beer met with Republican congressional leaders, Senators, and representative Mike Johnson, the newly installed Speaker of the House, all of whom expressed their support for Israel. He met with other Republican presidential candidates, including Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina. Beer showed her videos of the horrors he had seen. “She couldn’t believe that these things happened,” and adds that she told him that she has always said that Hamas is sponsored by Iran.

Beer addressed the RJC convention and says, “I wanted people to know the real story of what was behind the scenes – not just what they read in the newspaper. It was very meaningful for them to hear it directly from me.”

Summing up his meetings with President Biden and the Republican candidates, Beer says, “My whole life, I have been preaching for unity. They are a lot of politics in the US between both parties. But one thing they should not fight about is Israel. They should both agree that Israel needs to be the safest place in the world, and that saving lives is of the utmost importance, not only for Israel’s sake but for America’s, too.”

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