Israeli forces obstruct paramedics and attack ambulances in Nablus

Israeli forces impeded Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) emergency medical teams from accessing injured Palestinians, during a raid in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Israeli forces killed three Palestinians, including a senior commander of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and a 16-year-old boy, during the raid in the early hours of Tuesday 9 August. PRCS teams treated 99 injuries, where 76 of them were shot by live ammunition.

PRCS field teams report that they faced many challenges in reaching the wounded. Paramedics were impeded from accessing injured Palestinians and two ambulances were shot at by Israeli forces, with one of the ambulances receiving damage to two of its tyres. Both ambulances were eventually forced to leave the scene without evacuating the injured Palestinians. Three other PRCS ambulances were also denied access to treat the wounded, leaving them in dire need of first aid.

“I live in a place where medical teams are constantly threatened, beaten and prevented from doing their life-saving jobs. We live under Israel’s military occupation that enjoys chronic impunity with regular attacks on ambulances and hospitals, and which kills civilians with zero accountability,” said Aseel Baidoun, MAP’s Advocacy and Communications Officer in the West Bank. “Palestinians’ lives are always at risk, regardless of whether they are medics, children, or people with disabilities. We can always be a direct target by Israeli forces, by just being Palestinians.”

This latest raid by Israeli forces comes just two days after Israel launched a three-day offensive on Gaza, which killed 46 Palestinians, including 16 children, and injured 360. It also comes in the context of surging violence by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the West Bank, which has killed 66 Palestinians so far in 2022 – a figure significantly higher than comparable timeframes in recent years.

A number of these casualties have happened as Israeli forces conduct raids in Palestinian communities, especially in Jenin and Nablus, which have been met with resistance by residents.

“We live under Israel’s military occupation that enjoys chronic impunity with regular attacks on ambulances and hospitals, and which kills civilians with zero accountability.”

Attacks on health remain relentless

During May 2021, the PRCS reported almost daily attacks on their staff and facilities in the West Bank, with three ambulances put out of use due to damage. The Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition identified 169 incidents of violence against or obstruction of healthcare in the occupied Palestinian territory in 2021, including violence perpetrated by Israeli forces and settlers.

Attacks against emergency medical services, including personnel and ambulances, performing their humanitarian duties, are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law. Healthcare workers and facilities must be protected and spared from any attack or hindrance or any forcible interference with their functioning.

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 occupied Palestinian territory by promoting adherence to UN Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016), and supporting genuine investigations and accountability where violations have occurred, including through the UN Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.

Every Palestinian healthcare worker has the right to work without being attacked. If you agree, show your solidarity with healthcare workers and sign the pledge.

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Photo: PRCS medics carry an injured Palestinian demonstrator to an ambulance during a protest against Israeli settlements near Nablus, February 11, 2022. (Credit: REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta).

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