Israel + 1 more

OPT: Weekly Press Release 22 - 28 Feb 2003

Situation Report
Originally published
During this reporting period, the Israeli Army continued to violate the First and Fourth Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by denying freedom of movement to Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulances and its medical teams, who were threatened by gunfire, physical assault, and arbitrary searches which adversely affected the sick and wounded, in Nablus and Bethlehem, and harassment in Jerusalem and Jericho.
Jerusalem and Jericho: PRCS has documented a trend over the past several weeks, in which Israeli police in the Jerusalem and Jericho areas issue traffic violations to PRCS ambulances for simply carrying patients in Israeli areas. The police are confiscating the ambulance and driving licenses for the medics, and issuing court dates.

Qalqilia, 27 February 2003 (11:55): The ambulance dispatch received a call from the Israeli Army's District Coordinating Office (DCO) requesting that they pick up a patient who was waiting at the checkpoint. The patient was being treated for gunshot wounds at an Israeli hospital, which decided to transfer him -- without prior arrangement -- to a Palestinian hospital during the worst storm the area has seen in decades. The man, whom the hospital declared to be in stable condition, died shortly after the transfer. Later hospital statements attempted to blame the death of the 62 yr old patient on the ambulance delay. Please see our full press release regarding this incident at: <>

Nablus, 26 February 2003 (16:00): An ambulance transporting 2 patients from Sadet Salim to the hospital, was detained by Israeli soldiers for one hour and 15 minutes.

Nablus, 22 February 2003 (05:00): An ambulance stopped at the Qusin checkpoint while responding to a call to pick up a woman who had gone into labor in the Dir Shaqa area. The gate of the checkpoint was closed, and no soldiers were in sight. After waiting for one hour, the ambulance crew was forced to turn back without the woman.

Nablus, 22 February 2003 (7:30): Jamal Abdel Nasser School: Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance attempting to carry a patient from Al-Basha Street to the hospital. The soldiers detained the two PRCS volunteers who were part of the ambulance crew, and made them stand facing a wall. The other members of the medical team were permitted to transfer the patient to the hospital. After dropping the patient off, the ambulance returned to the place where the volunteers were detained. When they arrived, soldiers attacked them, hitting the driver with the door of the ambulance, shattering the driver's side window with a gun, and shouting at them to leave. After a one half-hour, the soldiers released the volunteers.

Nablus, 22 February 2003 (13:00): An ambulance, working out of a PRCS field hospital in the Old City, was stopped by Israeli soldiers while en route to make a delivery of medicine and baby formula to a house in the Al-Qarween neighborhood. The soldiers held the ambulance crew at gunpoint before allowing them to proceed. When the ambulance reached the house where the delivery was to be made, the street was too narrow for it to pass. One of the medics attempted to walk the supplies into the area. As he left the vehicle, Israeli soldiers fired in the direction of the ambulance and the medic. One of the bullets narrowly missed the medic, making a hole in the leg of his trousers. The ambulance crew left the scene. Later they returned via a different route. On their second attempt, they were again repelled by Israeli gunfire, and they left the relief goods at one of the neighboring houses.

Bethlehem, 27 February 2003 (16:30): Two ambulances were stopped by Israeli soldiers at the Hebron District Coordinating Office (DCO) checkpoint. The ambulances, one of which was from Hebron and the other from Bethlehem, were engaged in a "back-to-back" transfer of a cancer patient from the Beit Jala Hospital to Hebron. At the checkpoint, the soldiers refused to allow the patient to transfer to the Hebron ambulance, and instructed the Bethlehem ambulance to take the patient back. The patient refused to leave the checkpoint. After one hour and a half, the patient was finally allowed to go with the Hebron ambulance.

Bethlehem, 23 February 2003 (10:40): At the Gilo (Bethlehem) checkpoint, Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance going to the Al-Maqassed Hospital in Jerusalem. After checking the IDs of the crew, the soldiers allowed the ambulance to pass. When the ambulance reached the Tal Biot area, it was stopped by an Israeli Police vehicle. While they searched the ambulance, the police made the ambulance crew stand with their hands up. Then the soldiers commanded the ambulance crew to remove their shirts. They were detained for 50 minutes. One of the patients in the ambulance was in critical condition.

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.

For full text see <> .

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