MAP bolsters emergency response amid escalating attacks on healthcare in the West Bank

While the world’s attention has focused on Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment and siege on Gaza, military and settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank surged after 7 October 2023 and shows no signs of letting up.

In response to this escalating violence, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is bolstering its emergency response in the West Bank.

Between 7 October 2023 and 1 February 2024, Israeli forces and settlers killed 372 Palestinians, including 94 children across the West Bank. This follows 2023 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank – when 507 people were killed – since UN records began in 2005.

Attacks on healthcare in the West Bank have also skyrocketed. The World Health Organisation has reported 358 attacks on healthcare since 7 October. These include physical attacks on healthcare workers, damage caused to health facilities, and ambulances obstructed from providing emergency treatment.

On 30 January, Israeli forces disguised as civilians and medical staff raided Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, killing three Palestinians. According to Dr Tawfiq Shawbaki, the head of Ibn Sina’s surgery unit, Israeli forces beat some of the doctors and nurses at the hospital. The day before, 29 January, a paramedic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) was beaten and arrested by Israeli forces while responding to an emergency call in Jenin.

Delays in critical care

As well as direct attacks on healthcare, the dangerous escalation in violence is also restricting patients from seeking critical care. Shifa, a nurse at a MAP-supported breast unit in Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, said as much as a third of the women in the unit have had their care delayed because of Israeli military checkpoints, roadblocks and their fear of travelling for treatment. These women are from Jenin and Tulkarem, two of the major flashpoint areas for Israeli military raids.

Staff are also struggling to simply get to the hospitals where they work due to checkpoints and road closures. Ahmed Al-Aswad, Head Nurse at the MAP-supported burns department of Rafidia Hospital, explains: “This situation has forced me to take alternative routes, which are usually fraught with danger, such as encountering [Israeli] settlers or driving on unsafe roads.”

Normally it would take Ahmed half an hour to drive from his home in Tulkarem to the hospital in Nablus, but now this can take over two hours. Ahmed told MAP how many of his colleagues are facing the same challenges and outlined how healthcare workers spending less time in hospitals can severely impact patient care: “This gap will result in patient operations being delayed and outpatient clinics will be cancelled.”

Amid the explosion of Israeli military and settler violence, and growing movement restrictions on civilians and healthcare workers, emergency healthcare needs are more critical than ever.

In response, MAP is working to equip frontline emergency medical services and four urgent care centres across the West Bank with medicines and equipment to treat the wounded. We are also pre-positioning emergency supplies in Nablus and Ramallah, to be released in case of further escalation.

Additionally, MAP’s team and partners in the West Bank have this week delivered psychological first aid training for mental health and psychosocial service providers at UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, and begun training first responders on lifesaving emergency care and stabilising injured patients.

MAP’s team are also now in the process of delivering emergency and lifesaving disposables, fluids, and drugs to Palestine Red Crescent Society emergency teams in Tulkarem and Nablus, two of the areas most affected by violence.

As Israel’s bombardment of Gaza continues, surpassing 100 days, the dire situation in the West Bank is likely to deteriorate further. Since 7 October, the Israeli army has already distributed 7,000 weapons to settlers, and is now reportedly considering providing anti-tank missiles to settlers in ‘isolated’ settlements and ‘others close to Palestinian villages’.

MAP’s team in the West Bank is working tirelessly to provide urgent aid and support to affected communities. It is imperative that the international community takes action to halt violence against Palestinians and attacks on healthcare.

Please support our emergency response to ensure Palestinian healthcare workers have the supplies they need to save lives.

Photo: A Palestinian ambulance and Israeli military in Nablus (Credit: © Ayman Nobani).

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