Accountability must be sought for armed raids on East Jerusalem hospital

Israeli soldiers and police raided Al Makassed Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem twice last week, amid protests and clashes which have hit the West Bank.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) reported that Al Makassed Hospital was raided by Israeli security forces on Monday 17 July. According to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem, Israeli forces raided Al Makassed Hospital again last Friday, firing stun grenades and teargas in the yard outside the hospital and using violence against the medical staff, hospital employees, and visitors. In at least one case, Israeli forces disrupted the medical treatment of a seriously injured patient receiving care at the hospital.

Speaking to Amnesty International, Al Makassed hospital’s head of reception, Talal al-Sayed, said the events last Friday were “above and beyond what we’ve ever seen”.

They [Israeli forces] invaded the entire hospital…They even entered the neonatal unit… What do they want in there?  It was pure terrorization of the patients,” Talal said.

Talal described how around 200 heavily armed Israeli military personnel surrounded and forcefully entered the hospital. Amnesty reported that Israeli forces were pursuing Mohammad Abu Ghannam, a young man with a major chest wound in critical condition. They reportedly entered the operating theatre where he was being treated, and “shoved and hit” the doctor who was trying to provide urgent care to him. Mohammed died of his wounds during the incident.

A nurse working at in the hospital told Amnesty: “I have never been so scared in my life. All I remember were loud sounds and pushing and screaming.  It was total chaos... There was blood all over the place on the floor on the walls."

Raids have also been reported at hospitals in Ramallah and Hebron, as well as obstructions to care at a clinic inside Jerusalem’s Old City, according the Ma’an News Agency.

Confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces were sparked by the Israeli Government’s decision to place new security measures at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in response to an attack on 14 July, in which two Israeli security officers and their three alleged Palestinian assailants were killed. Ma’an reported that on Wednesday Israel dismantled security measures and reopened all gates, though clashes have continued.

Since the incident, five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers and more than 1,000 Palestinians injured. Among the injured, 29 were wounded with live ammunition, 374 with rubber bullets and 471 sustained injuries as a result of tear gas. 216 people suffered bruises, burns or broken bones as a result of beatings, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

Protecting healthcare

Raids on hospitals are nothing new in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). In one of eight such incidents between October and December 2015, a relative of a patient was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a raid on Al Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Medical facilities and staff are afforded protected status under international law. Any violation of this tenet must be credibly investigated, and those responsible held accountable. Nevertheless, previous raids and attacks on healthcare in the oPt have been met with impunity.

Eroding protection of Palestinian healthcare is also demonstrated by the 73 hospitals and clinics damaged or destroyed during Israel’s 2014 military offensive on Gaza. To date, Israel has failed to credibly investigate these incidents.

Concerned by this trend, MAP is calling for action from the UK Government to reiterate its commitment the respect for and protection of medical personnel and facilities as enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2286, and to support international efforts to promote impartial investigations of, and accountability for, violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

You can read more about this issue in Chapter 2 of our Health Under Occupation series, ‘Protection For Healthcare’. You can also take action to support our calls by signing our petition and demanding Health and Dignity for Palestinians below:

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