OPT: Weekly Press Release 1 - 6 Mar 2003

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, and arbitrary searches which adversely affected the sick and wounded, in Nablus, Tubas, Tulkarem, Jenin, Qalqilia, and Gaza.
Nablus, 4 March 2003 (14:00): A PRCS ambulance was on its way to pick up patients, and to distribute food and medicine in the Old City during curfew, when it was stopped by the Israeli Army. The soldiers detained the ambulance for one half-hour, before letting it proceed.

Nablus, 3 March 2003 (19:10): Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance at the Ksarat checkpoint, and told the ambulance crew to turn back because the checkpoint was closed. The ambulance was on its way to take a patient from the Rafidiya Hospital to Tell Village. After being held for 25 minutes, and coordinating with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the ambulance was allowed to pass. On the way back to the ambulance station, the same soldiers detained the ambulance crew for 30 minutes. The soldiers searched the ambulance, and threatened the ambulance crew at gunpoint. In the end the ambulance crew was obliged to take a different -- and considerably more difficult -- route to the ambulance station.

Nablus, 2 March 2003 (12:00): Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance at the Yureen intersection, commanding the ambulance crew to turn around at gunpoint. The ambulance was going back to the ambulance station after having transported patients to their homes. After being detained for one half-hour, and coordinating with the ICRC, the ambulance was allowed to continue on its way.

Nablus, 1 March 2003 (08:15): An ambulance that was going from Tell Village to a Hospital in Nablus was stopped at the Qusin checkpoint. It was detained for 40 minutes, while soldiers questioned the patients about the nature of their injuries and insulted the ambulance crew. Eventually the ambulance was allowed to pass.

Tubas, 6 March 2003 (10:00): At the Shafi Shamron checkpoint, Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance that was carrying a patient to the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus. The soldiers held the ambulance for one half-hour, while they brought an Israeli doctor to verify that the patient (who was in serious condition) was actually injured. After the doctor examined the patient, the ambulance was allowed to pass.

Tulkarem, 4 March 2003 (17:00): Israeli tanks stopped an ambulance that was en route to pick up gunshot victims from the Tulkarem Refugee Camp. The soldiers questioned the ambulance crew, which was on its second trip to the scene of the shooting. After 35 minutes the ambulance was allowed to proceed.

Jenin, 5 March 2003 (09:30): An ambulance was stopped by Israeli soldiers at the entrance to Jenin. The ambulance was attempting to transport three patients from Jenin to hospitals in Nablus. The soldiers made the ambulance crew exit the ambulance. They searched the crew and the ambulance, and then commanded that the ambulance go back to Jenin, saying that the patients were not in an emergency situation and that Jenin was closed.

Jenin, 2 March 2003 (10:00): Israeli soldiers stopped an ambulance, which was attempting to transport a patient from Jenin to Ramallah. The soldiers took the keys from the ambulance, and detained it for one half-hour, before permitting it to proceed. The reason given for these actions was that the ambulance crew had not asked permission before it drove past some Israeli tanks.

Qalqilia, 5 March 2003 (04:30): Israeli tanks stopped an ambulance on Nablus Street. The ambulance was on the way to pick up a sick child from the Kafr Saba neighborhood. The ambulance crew was forced to walk to the child's home with the accompaniment of Israeli soldiers, who wanted to verify that the child was actually sick. When the soldiers saw that the child was sick, they allowed the ambulance to pass after detaining it for half an hour.

Gaza, 1-6 March 2003: Shelling during the invasion of the Jabalya Refugee Camp damaged PRCS 2 ambulances and injured 4 PRCS medics. Random shelling on the March 6th caused the shattering of interior and exterior windows in the PRCS Jabalya Primary Health Care Clinic, which is located naer the scene of the invasion.

Gaza, 2 March 2003 (08:30): A PRCS ambulance in Khan Yunis was fired at directly. 10 bullets hit the vehicle from all sides. The glass, wheels, and body of the ambulance were punctured.


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