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March 12, 2002
Israeli forces assault medical personnel



by LAW Society 11:11pm Sun Mar 10 '02

Israeli forces assault medical personnel

9 March 2002

New information provided by the family of Dr. Ahmad Othman Khoudari, who was killed yesterday, March 8, 2002, and hospital sources, reveal that after ten hours of besieging the Yamama Hospital, the offices of the International Red Cross in Jerusalem and Bethlehem arranged with the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) to allow Dr. Ahmad Othman Khoudari, director of Yamama Hospital, to leave home and go to his hospital, so that he could supervise its work and treat the injured. The Israeli commander, Captain Joey (DCO), who had previously threatened Palestinian officials in Bethlehem to open fire at any ambulance he had not been previously informed about (registration number and destination), agreed to let Dr. Khoudari leave home, located only 50 meters away from the Yamama Hospital, wearing a white shirt, and without a jacket.

Dr. Khoudari was informed of the arrangement with the DCO and Captain Joey phoned the doctor and told him that he (Dr. Khoudari) could move and the Israeli snipers and officers would not harm him. Consequently, Dr. Khoudari drove to Al-Hussain Hospital to acquire some medical supplies of which the Yamama Hospital was short of. He was allowed to cross the first Israeli military roadblock, however, Israeli forces, positioned at the entrance of Al Dheisheh refugee camp, close to the hospital, opened fire from a tank, killing the hospital director instantly. Three 500mm bullets were fired at him directly from close range.

This is not an isolated incident. During the past week, in particular, the last few days, ambulances have been fired upon, three ambulance staff have been killed, and nine other medical personnel have been injured.

The right of the sick and wounded to receive prompt medical attention is one of the most basic principles of humanitarian law. Regardless of political circumstances, the Occupying Power is obligated to permit the wounded and sick to be "collected and cared for", and should accord them "particular protection and respect" according to Article 16, Fourth Geneva Convention. Despite such clear regulations encoded in binding international legal agreements, to which Israel is a signatory, Israeli forces have targetted, harassed, delayed and obstructed health workers and local residents attempting to collect the wounded and transport them to hospitals.

Repeated assaults, shootings and shelling by the Israeli military during the current Palestinian uprising have caused the health needs of the civilian population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories to outstrip the available medical services. Israeli soldiers and commanders have delayed ambulances transporting the injured, physically mistreated doctors and other health care professionals, raided medical facilities, and adopted measures which reduce the quality and availability of health services. These abuses illustrate a disregard for the most fundamental humanitarian norms on the part of the Israeli occupation army. Even the minimum international standards governing the treatment of wounded civilians and medical personnel have been violated by the Israeli army in their conduct towards Palestinian civilians.

International humanitarian law requires that ambulances and health facilities be free from any military attack, medical personnel be respected and protected, and the sick and injured be humanelyn treated and receive prompt access to medical care.


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