Jewish towns in the British Mandate lacked even the most elementary first-aid services as Arabs attacked in deadly riots.


Magen David Adom (MDA) was founded on June 7, 1930, in Tel Aviv by seven Israeli doctors who set up a one-room emergency medical service in a dilapidated hut.

Provisional vehicle for patient transfer


A second MDA group was formed in Haifa.


In Jerusalem, a third group of emergency medical responders was formed.


MDA groups around the country united to form a national emergency medical organization, serving both the public and the Haganah. The group had only several dozen volunteers and a small truck converted into an ambulance.

The first MDA ambulance

1936 – 1939

MDA grew in the wake of a second wave of anti-Jewish riots as the organization cared for the wounded and gave first-aid training to the Haganah and auxiliary police.

Ambulance at Mt. Scopus Station

First aid station in Jerusalem, 1939


A group of dedicated and concerned Americans founded American Red Mogen Dovid for Palestine, known today as American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), to support the fledging MDA by raising funds for upgraded medical supplies and blood services.

Vintage ambulances

Vintage ambulance


During Israel’s War of Independence, ambulances and blood collection vans donated by American supporters played a critical role in MDA’s response in treating soldiers and civilians injured in the attacks.

Ambulance on fire in Jerusalem in 1948

Ambulances donated by Americans setting sail for Israel from New York in 1949


The Magen David Adom Law was enacted by Israel’s parliament, establishing MDA as Israel’s official national Red Cross society and mandating that it provide all emergency, ambulance, and blood services. The mandate did not provide government funding, so American donors stepped up their efforts to supply MDA with the necessary equipment.

Blood donation campaign


Jerusalem was reunited after the Six-Day War, bringing more territory under the jurisdiction of MDA’s Jerusalem Station and requiring more supplies and personnel. As new immigrants arrived around the country, additional MDA stations were constructed to serve the growing population.

First responder during the Six-Day War


As terrorism and the “war of attrition” took a toll on Israel’s people, MDA treated the wounded.


When Israel was attacked during the Yom Kippur War, MDA mobilized immediately, evacuating casualties from border communities and transferring wounded soldiers to hospitals.

Rescuing injured soldiers during the Yom Kippur War


The new MDA National Blood Services Center was constructed with the help of American donors. Today, the center supplies nearly all of Israel’s blood needs. It also houses the MDA Cord Blood Bank, a public cord blood storage facility and research center.

MDA National Blood Services Center


During the First Lebanon War, MDA stepped up again as Israel’s “second line of defense” and treated civilian and military victims.

Ambulances entering Tyre during First Lebanon War

MDA and the Israel Defense Forces during First Lebanon War


As terrorist attacks became more frequent, MDA provided a high level of medical care to victims, often under life-threatening conditions.

Bus after terror attack


Just days after the International Red Cross finally welcomed MDA as a member, the Second Lebanon War began and rockets pounded northern Israel. MDA treated more than 2,600 victims, supplied more than 20,000 blood units, and brought humanitarian aid to more than 30,000 people in bomb shelters.


Communities in the western Negev came under attack during the Gaza War. MDA was again on high alert, racing to the scene of 1,180 rocket attacks and treating 770 casualties. Thanks to MDA paramedics, only four civilians lost their lives.

Rescuing rocket attack victims in Sderot


Israel’s population continues to grow, and so does the need for emergency medical services. With the support of American donors, MDA stations are being renovated and built around the country, new medical technology is available, paramedics train in the latest rescue techniques, and MDA saves lives in Israel every day.

An MDA helicopter