Take us to your leader®. Then take us to your reader®.
How it works? [Click here]
Who we are
Our Agenda

Latest News
Good & Bad News

101 Palestinian History
Link & Resources
The Valley Galleria
nileMedia Reader

Join US
Contact Us

March 09, 2002
Israeli forces assault medical personnel



Following Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's earlier declaration to hit the Palestinians hard, this morning, Israeli forces and tanks, backed by Apache helicopters, entered the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. Israeli armed forces also entered the nearby town of Beit Jala and the Aida and Dheisheh refugee camps. Until now, at least four Palestinians have been killed and dozens have been injured.

Since the morning ambulances and medical personnel have been completely prevented from movement. At 12.40 pm, an ambulance, belonging to al- Jamameh hospital, which is located on the main street in south Bethlehem, was stopped from leaving the hospital to evacuate injured Palestinians in other parts of the city. At that moment, an Israeli tank approached the hospital to block the ambulance. Ahmad al-Khoudari (42), the director of the hospital, came out to negotiate with the Israeli soldiers, who were inside and around the tank, trying to convince them to allow the ambulance to leave the hospital and evacuate the injured. Before he could finish, heavy gunshots were fired from the tank, killing the hospital director instantly. Three 500mm bullets were fired at him directly from close range. He was a father of five.

The Israeli forces present ordered everyone to leave the hospital. The sick and wounded were transferred to other hospitals in the area and staff left the hospital and started to work as paramedics in the field to help evacuate injured Palestinians in various parts of the city. During this Israeli military operation, the hospital has become an Israeli target. At this moment, Israeli forces continue to hinder ambulances and medical personell to evacuate the sick and injured from various places.

Yesterday, Israeli forces shot and killed two medical personnel in Tulkarem. An Israeli tank positioned at the western entrance of Tulkarem refugee camp opened heavy fire at a United Nations ambulance, killing Kamal Abdelrahman Salem (35), a volunteer at the United Nations. A single 500mm bullet entered his back, penetrated the heart and killed him instantly. The ambulance had been transporting a critically wounded camp resident to the hospital. An Israeli armoured personnel carrier (APC) and tank stopped the ambulance at the camp entrance and held it for 20 minutes, thoroughly checking the vehicle before allowing it to proceed. The critically wounded camp resident died en route to the hospital.

Two ambulances belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) which responded to calls to evacuate injured Palestinians were targetted by an Israeli tank positioned in the eastern part of Tulkarem.

The Israeli tank opened heavy fire at the ambulances, hitting the driver of the first ambulance, Ibrahim Mohammad As'ad (38), in his shoulder and injured Safiyah Balbisi (24), a paramedic, who sat beside him, with shrapnel in her head and shoulder. The driver shouted to the Israeli soldiers that he was driving an ambulance and he stepped out. Safiyah Balbisi also left the ambulance and she tried to reach the second ambulance which was driving behind them.

While the driver tried to escape from gunfire, the Israeli tank commanders chased him. He fell on the ground. Instead of saving his life, the soldiers shot him point blank in his forehead. The circumstances suggest that he was executed in cold blood.

As Safiyah Balbisi managed to reach the second ambulance, she found the driver, Ra'ed Ghaleb Yasin (34), injured by shrapnel in his head and face, and Mahmoud Hussein Bijawi (30), injured with shrapnel in his head, chest, and right shoulder. A few minutes later, Israeli forces shot and injured Dr. Nabhan Jallad (51), director of PRCS' Emergency Unit in Tulkarem, in the leg inside the ambulance station.

Earlier this week, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian physician, Dr. Khalil Sulieman (58), head of PRCS' Emergency Unit in Jenin. An Israeli tank fired a shell at the ambulance while it tried to evacuate an injured young girl in Jenin refugee camp. The driver and four paramedics were injured that day.

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. Yet, as the cases described above demonstrate, injured Palestinian civilians and medical teams providing them with aid have been denied these basic protections.

Violations of the standards articulated by international humanitarian law have been criticized by numerous local and international humanitarian agencies during the past 17 months. Despite these complaints, little action, in terms of either investigation or disciplinary action, has been taken by the Israeli authorities to end these abuses.

In view of the urgency of the present situation, LAW Society strongly condemns the on going violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including those acts that amount to war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces with impunity and urges the international community to immediately fulfill their legal obligations to ensure Israel's respect of the Fourth Geneva Convention and end its occupation of the Gaza strip and West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and to provide immediate and effective international protection for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. LAW Society additionally calls for a thorough, independent, and effective international investigation into violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including war crimes, and calls for those found responsible for such actions to be tried before an international court.

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Federation Internationale des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) and the World Organisation Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, PO Box 20873, Jerusalem, tel. +972-2-5833530, fax. +972-2- 5833317, email: law@lawsociety.org, web: www.lawsociety.org

Friend's Name: 
Friend's E-mail: 
Your Name: