Ambulance severely damaged as mourners come under attack by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem

A Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance has been put out of service after being hit by live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets during Israel’s ongoing systematic use of excessive force and attacks on Palestinian healthcare in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Monday night, Israeli police injured at least 70 Palestinians during the funeral procession of Walid al-Sharif in East Jerusalem. Al-Sharif had suffered a head wound during a raid by Israeli forces on the Al Aqsa Mosque compound on 22 April, and died at Al Makassed Hospital on 14 May. As his coffin was carried from the hospital to Al Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police fired rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas canisters, and attacked mourners with batons. According to the PRCS, 13 people were hospitalised, including two with eye injuries. PRCS medical teams treating the wounded also once again came under attack.

“Israel’s attacks on mourners are an inhumane violation of Palestinians’ right to dignity in both life and death.” – Aisha Mansour, MAP’s West Bank Director.

“On Monday 16 May, while PRCS teams transferred the body of Walid al-Sharif from Makassed Hospital, Israeli forces shot directly at a PRCS ambulance with live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets,” said Mohammad Fityani, spokesperson for the PRCS. “A lot of damage to the ambulance was sustained – the wheels were hit and one of the back windows was shattered. The ambulance is now out of service and needs time to be repaired.”

These latest incidents comes in the context of persistent attacks on Palestinian healthcare and excessive use of force against Palestinians, including during the funeral of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Shireen Abu Akleh, one of the most prominent Palestinian journalists, was fatally shot while covering an Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin on 11 May. She was wearing a press vest and helmet and standing with other journalists when she was killed, with eyewitness testimony and open-source investigation indicating that she was shot by Israeli forces. Ali al-Samoudi, another Al Jazeera journalist, was also wounded by a bullet in the back.

On 15 May, Israeli riot police fired stun grenades and stormed St. Joseph’s Hospital and assaulted mourners carrying her coffin as it left the hospital on the way to her funeral, drawing widespread condemnation internationally, including in the UK.

“Israel’s attacks on mourners are an inhumane violation of Palestinians’ right to dignity in both life and death,” said Aisha Mansour, MAP’s West Bank Director. “It is imperative that genuine, independent investigations are conducted into attacks on health workers, mourners and journalists, including the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.”

The World Health Organization has verified 58 attacks on health in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since the start of 2022.

MAP has recently provided the PRCS with essential medical supplies and consumables, and supported Al Makassed Hospital with a range of first-line antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of wound infections.

This support comes in addition to our response to the emergency situation in May 2021, which included equipping the PRCS with a new ambulance in March this year. We are also in the process of procuring a new ambulance for PRCS in East Jerusalem. We remain in close contact with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, East Jerusalem hospitals and the PRCS, and are thoroughly monitoring emerging humanitarian needs.

Amid this recent violence, MAP calls on the international community, including the UK government, to demand an immediate end to Israel’s excessive force against Palestinian civilians, and its attacks on health workers.

We also call on states to strengthen the protection of medical personnel and facilities in the oPt by promoting adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016), and supporting genuine investigations and accountability where such violations have occurred, including through the UN Commission of Inquiry on the oPt, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.

On 25 May, the Security Council will hold its annual debate on the protection of civilians in conflict. Please take action to demand that your government speak out against Israel’s attacks on Palestinian health workers and facilities, and demand an end to impunity for violations of international law that keep them in the firing line.

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