Medics injured and impeded during renewed violence in Sheikh Jarrah

Renewed violence by Israeli forces and settlers in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem is bringing back distressing memories of events in May 2021, which culminated in Israel’s most devastating military assault on Gaza in seven years.

Over four days, at least 35 Palestinians have been injured, including paramedics and a journalist, after Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, teargas and stun grenades at Palestinians protesting Israel’s discriminatory policies and the imminent forced displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah.

“Since Sunday, our medical team has served 35 Palestinians who have been injured during the clashes. Ten of the injured were transferred to hospital and three of them were medics who were injured while giving first aid,” said Mohammad Fityani, spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

“We have faced a lot of obstacles such as denied and delayed access to the scenes of the clashes; weapons raised against medics; and medics told to leave the area. We have also had an attack on our ambulance where the body of the vehicle was damaged.”

The latest violence was sparked after dozens of Israeli settlers raided Sheikh Jarrah and assaulted Palestinians who gathered to stand in solidarity with the Salem family – who are facing the imminent threat of being forcibly evicted from their homes.

The situation intensified after a far-right member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) re-established his tent ‘office’ right outside the Salem family’s home, in a provocative display of support for the Israeli settlers. His supporters were filmed dancing and celebrating the threatened displacement of the Salem family. “The injustice is clear to anyone who has their eyes open,” said Yuval Abraham, the Israeli journalist who captured footage of the display.

The Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, which treated around 1,000 injuries during violence nine months ago, was already facing increased pressure before this latest violence. “The hospital is going through critical times at the moment”, said Dr Suhail Miari, Senior Consultant for Resources Development and Projects Monitoring. “We are currently unable to pay the salaries of our 900 employees. In December, employees got half their salary and in January and February they have had no salary.”

MAP will continue to monitor events closely and keep supporters updated. In the past months, we have delivered emergency supplies to the PRCS, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, the Makassed Hospital and the Saint Joseph Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem. We are now in the process of securing two ambulances for PRCS to support their response to the volatile situation.

Please consider supporting the critical work of hospitals in East Jerusalem by giving a donation to MAP today.

Increasing violence against Palestinians

Violence from Israeli forces and settlers also presents a growing threat to Palestinian lives and wellbeing elsewhere in the West Bank. According to the UN, 834 Palestinians were injured by settlers and soldiers in just the first six weeks of 2022, nearly three times the number (285) injured in the equivalent period in 2021.

This week, the Palestinian Ministry of Health reported that dozens of people were injured by live ammunition and rubber-coated bullets during an armed raid to demolish a Palestinian home and subsequent clashes in the village of Silat al-Harithiya near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. The PRCS said its ambulances were prevented from accessing the village to treat the wounded. According to Defence For Children International – Palestine, 16-year-old Mohammad Akram Ali Taher Abu Salah was shot dead by an Israeli sniper on Sunday 13 February.

Israel’s systematic violations of international law and discriminatory practices against Palestinians are a fundamental challenge to Palestinians’ health and dignity. MAP calls on the international community, including the UK, to take urgent steps to halt Israel’s attempts to displace Palestinians from their homes; cease its use of excessive force against protesters and healthcare workers; and ensure unimpeded access for health workers to the wounded.

Where violations of international law that undermine Palestinian health and dignity have occurred, the international community should support genuine investigations and accountability, including through the recently-established UN Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.

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Read this update in Arabic.

Photo: Palestine Red Crescent Society Jerusalem healthcare workers.

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