MAP calls for an immediate end to attacks on Palestinian protesters

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is deeply concerned by recent attacks on Palestinian protesters by Israeli and Palestinian security forces and urges immediate protection for protesters and health workers.

Since May, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem protesting against discriminatory policies and attempts to forcibly expel Palestinian families from the neighbourhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan have been met with excessive use of force by Israeli security forces and attacks by Israeli settlers. Medical first responders have treated around 1,300 Palestinians injured by the systematic use of rubber-coated steel bullets, physical beatings, tear gas and sound grenades. MAP’s partners, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), report that 12 of their paramedics have been injured by Israeli forces while providing first aid to wounded Palestinians in the city.

Thirty-eight Palestinians have been killed and more than 7,000 injured by Israeli forces across the entire West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 20 May. Since 10 May, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has documented significant obstruction to its work and 60 direct attacks against their teams, including 21 incidents of denying access and 19 incidents of staff and volunteers injured.

In the West Bank, further protests in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem have been sparked by the killing of political activist Nizar Banat, who died on 24 June after being detained and beaten by Palestinian security forces. At a demonstration in Ramallah on 26 June, Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq documented excessive use of force by Palestinian security forces in uniform and civilian attire against protesters: “including by attacking the participants with batons and rocks, which resulted in injuries in heads, and the dragging of some of the participants on the ground, followed by beating them in different parts of their bodies.”

In a statement released on 1 July, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Palestinian security forces “to provide safety and security for the exercise of human rights, including peaceful assembly” and insisted that “any unnecessary or disproportionate use of force must be promptly, transparently and independently investigated.”

Under international human rights law, both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority are obligated to respect Palestinians’ rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and opinion. MAP calls for an immediate end to excessive use of force against protesters and demands that health workers treating the wounded are allowed to conduct their work unimpeded. The UK government and the wider international community must use their leverage with all local duty bearers to ensure adherence to international law in the occupied Palestinian territory, and to guarantee that Palestinian health workers are protected from attack.

Photo: Protests in Ramallah, occupied West Bank near Bet El Settlement. (Credit: Tanya Habjouqa/Life with Dignity).

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