Israel + 1 more

OPT: Weekly Press Release 15 - 21 Feb 2003

Nablus, 21 February 2003 (12:50): An ambulance was stopped at the Howara checkpoint while carrying children from the Qalandia checkpoint to Nablus. The children, who are cardiac patients, had arrived at the Qalandia checkpoint in a Gaza ambulance during their transfer from a hospital in Gaza to a hospital in Nablus. As the ambulance waited at the Howara checkpoint, an Israeli civilian stopped his car, got out, and stood in front of the ambulance shouting verbal abuse at the ambulance crew. The man insulted the driver of the ambulance and called out to the soldiers not to let the ambulance pass because its passengers were Arabs. A soldier came and stood between the man and the ambulance, but the man managed to hit the ambulance driver in the face, causing him to bleed. The soldier told the aggressor not to move, but the man ignored the order, got into his car and sped away.
Nablus, 20 February 2003 (10:45): The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) received a call requesting transportation for a patient on Ma'moon Street. A PRCS ambulance drove to the house where the call originated. The house was under the control of the Israeli army, which had occupied and surrounded the building. The ambulance crew tried to access the patient twice, from two sides of the building. On the third try, soldiers in front of the house made the crew leave the ambulance and take off their clothes. The soldiers then commanded the ambulance crew to leave. The ambulance left without the patient and reported the incident to the ICRC.

Nablus, 20 February 2003 (10:45): An ambulance responding to a call to pick up a patient from the Old City was stopped by the Israeli army near the Al-Khalili Mosque. The soldiers shouted at the ambulance crew and made them turn around. The ambulance driver attempted to reach the patients by a different street, but was stopped again by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers refused to let them pass and demanded that they leave without the patient. Upon returning the EMS station, the crew reported the incident to the ICRC.

Nablus, 19 February 2003 (20:40): Israeli soldiers at the Qalandia checkpoint stopped an ambulance that was transferring a patient from Al-Ittihad Hospital in Nablus to Al-Maqassed Hospital in Jerusalem. The soldiers made the ambulance wait for 45 minutes, claiming that the ambulance needed a permit to pass. During this time, the soldiers laughed at and verbally abusing the driver. Eventually, the driver called the Nablus EMS station to request ICRC intervention. The ambulance was finally allowed to pass after waiting an additional 10 minutes.

Nablus, 19 February 2003 (14:15): The Israeli army stopped an ambulance en route to pick up injuries in the Ras Al-'Ain area. After searching the ambulance and checking the IDs of the crew, the soldiers forced one of the PRCS medics to accompany them into a nearby apartment building. They took the medic into one of the apartments and subsequently tied his hands and blindfolded him, making him sit on the stairs of the apartment building, where they hit him in the back with a gun. Whenever the medic asked why they were holding him, the soldiers responded with verbal abuse. At 19:00 he was still sitting on the stairs when one of the soldiers brought him some food that the ambulance crew sent for him. Then the solders re-tied his hands and took him to a school, which was being used as a detention center. He was questioned twice before being released.

Nablus, 19 February 2003 (21:10): Israeli soldiers refused to permit the passage of an ambulance that was responding to a call to pick up a child who had suffered a head injury in the Ras Al-'Ain neighborhood, near the Ajaj Mosque. The ambulance attempted to reach the child by taking a different road, but was again stopped by soldiers and forced to turn back.

Jenin, 16 February 2003 (22:00): At the checkpoint near Arraba, the Israeli army refused passage to an ambulance, which was on its way to pick up a man who was suffering from a heart attack. Although the ambulance crew explained the situation, the soldiers made them wait for one hour and fifteen minutes while someone drove the patient to the checkpoint from the opposite side. When the patient arrived at the checkpoint, he was allowed to enter the ambulance, which took him to the hospital.

Tulkarem, 21 February 2003 (20:00): An ambulance responded to a call to treat a man who had been shot by Israeli soldiers. When they reached the victim of the shooting, he was already dead from being shot numerous times in the torso and neck. When the medics asked the soldiers why they had shot the man so many times, the soldiers replied that they had only shot him once.

Qalqilia, 21 February 2003 (20:20): The EMS dispatch received a call to pick up a woman in labor from Al-Jaha. Two ambulances responded, hoping that at least one of them would be able to reach the woman. On the way back, Israeli soldiers at the District Coordinating Office (DCO) checkpoint stopped both ambulances. They allowed the ambulance carrying the woman to pass, but detained the other vehicle, verbally abusing the crew and hitting the driver in the head before allowing them to return to Qalqilia.

Hebron, 16 February 2003 (11:00): Israeli soldiers refused passage to an ambulance near the Al-Zawiya Gate. The ambulance was on the way to pick up a woman who was 8 months pregnant and was in distress after inhaling tear gas. The ambulance crew, ignoring the soldiers' command, proceeded past the soldiers and reached the woman. On the way out of the area, the ambulance was stopped again. The soldiers made everyone exit the ambulance, and proceeded to use their guns and their hands to hit the ambulance crew. Then they rammed a tank into the side of the ambulance, destroying the door on the driver's side. After these events, the ambulance successfully brought the woman to the hospital.

Ramallah, 20 February 2003 (22:30): Israeli soldiers at the Bet El checkpoint detained an ambulance with a patient inside. After waiting for 2 hours and coordinating with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ambulance was allowed to pass. On the way back to Ramallah, the same soldiers detained the ambulance crew at the same checkpoint for 20 minutes.

Gaza City, 19 February 2003 (02:15): The EMS dispatch received a call to pick up two people from the Al-Karam intersection. Israeli soldiers had surrounded the area, so the ambulance crew coordinated their entry through the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Israeli army agreed to permit the ambulance passage on the condition that it drove slowly, with its lights flashing and the interior lights of the ambulance illuminated. When they reached Salah Al-Din Street, an Israeli tank gave them the signal to go ahead and the ambulance began to proceed as agreed. However, the tank began to approach the ambulance and soldiers positioned on the tank fired in the direction of the ambulance. At this point the ambulance left the scene.

These incidents constitute a breach of articles (19,24 & 25) of the First Geneva Convention, which guarantees the protection of medical units, establishments and personnel as well as articles (27, 55 and 56) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which calls for the protection of civilians.

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