MAP calls for urgent international action to protect Palestinians amidst military violence in occupied East Jerusalem

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) urges the international community, including the UK government, to take urgent and immediate steps to protect Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem and ensure access to medical care for those wounded by Israeli forces.

At time of writing on Monday 10 May, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) report that 305 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces during a raid on the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem and ongoing protests. Around 228 Palestinians have been hospitalised, including seven in a critical condition.

These latest injuries are the latest in a week where Israeli forces have repeatedly used rubber-coated steel bullets, physical beatings, tear gas and sound grenades against Palestinians in the city. Protests were sparked by the installation of barriers around the Damascus Gate into the Old City (now removed); attacks on Palestinians and marches by far-right Israeli extremists; and attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in favour of Israeli settlers seeking to take their homes. The PRCS report that since the beginning of the month of Ramadan they have dealt with 349 injuries, with 88 people transferred to hospitals in East Jerusalem. The majority of injuries were reportedly impact injuries to the upper body including face, eyes and chest.

The PRCS has also faced significant impediments to its work. A request to transfer additional ambulances from the West Bank into East Jerusalem to help cope with the influx of injuries was reportedly denied by the Israeli authorities, and its paramedic crews have been prevented or delayed from accessing the wounded. In a number of incidents, PRCS paramedics have been targeted with tear gas, “skunk water” and rubber-coated steel bullets, resulting in damage to two ambulances. One PRCS staff member was reportedly beaten and briefly detained.

The widespread and systematic use of excessive force against Palestinians, including health workers, is a well-documented practice in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Incidents routinely go un-investigated while violations of international law are persistently tolerated by the international community, creating a culture of impunity that fuels recurrence.

MAP CEO Dr Aimee Shalan said:

“Attempts from some quarters to paint events in Jerusalem as “clashes” between two equal and opposing sides belies the fact that it is only Palestinians who endure perpetual military occupation and a concerted effort to dispossess them of their land, rights, health and dignity.

“Calling for ‘de-escalation’ is not an adequate response from the international community. The UK government and other states must take action to support Palestinian access to health care and real accountability for the brutal treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.”

Beyond the immediate physical impacts on Palestinian health resulting from its use of force this month, Israeli authorities in the city have enacted policies of dispossession, demolitions and systematic neglect that have chronically undermined the psychosocial health and wellbeing of Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem while simultaneously promoting the growth of illegal settlements.

MAP calls on the international community, including the UK government, to take urgent steps to halt Israel’s violations of international law by demanding an immediate end to all attempts to displace Palestinians from their homes; the cessation of excessive force against protesters and healthcare workers; and unimpeded access for health workers to the wounded. Where violations occur, the international community should recognise the pattern of chronic impunity Israel affords to its own actions and support genuine investigations and accountability.

MAP will continue to monitor events closely, and keep supporters updated. Following our support of the East Jerusalem hospital network during the COVID-19 crisis, MAP is ready to extend that support during the current emergency as needed.

Photo credit: Palestinian Red Crescent Society

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