B'Tselem releases new report and nine Israeli human rights organizations demonstrate: Stop Shooting at Ambulances and Allow Medical Treatment
B'Tselem releases a new report today: "Impeding Medical Treatment and Firing at Ambulances by IDF Soldiers in the Occupied Territories." To coincide with the release of the report, B'Tselem together with eight other Israeli human rights organizations, organized a march and demonstration at the entrance to Ramallah.
Over the past two weeks (28 February - 13 March), the intentional attacks on medical teams and the prevention of medical teams from treating the sick and wounded have been almost unprecedented. IDF soldiers have fired at ambulances, killing five Palestinian medical personnel who were on duty, wounded several members of ambulance medical teams, and damaging the ambulances. In addition, the IDF prevented medical treatment to the sick and wounded, even leaving people to bleed to death. Hospitals have been unable to function because of the damage to the electricity, water, and telephone infrastructure, and the blocking of access to some of them. As a result, the hospitals are unable to receive the wounded and sick, or obtain food and medicine.
B'Tselem's new report includes testimonies on these incidents, as well as on the delays in providing medical treatment and evacuating the wounded.
These violations are an integral part of Israeli policy and are accompanied by other grave practices. The matters described in this report are another indication of the IDF's total loss of restraint.
IDF officials have repeatedly claimed that Palestinians are exploiting ambulances to smuggle weapons and armed Palestinians. They have never offered any proof to substantiate these allegations, despite the repeated requests of human rights organizations and others. Given the widespread nature of these claims, it is not surprising that soldiers treat ambulances as a legitimate target and ignore the immunity from attack that they deserve.
B'Tselem demands that the Israeli government and the Chief of Staff act immediately to ensure complete immunity of medical teams, as required by international humanitarian law.
To highlight the urgency of these demands, nine Israeli human rights organizations organized a march from the A-Ram checkpoint to the Qalandia checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah. Hundreds of people demonstrated and held signs stating, "Stop Shooting at Ambulances," "Medical Treatment is an Absolute Right" and "IDF: Hands Off Civilians." In addition, a truck brought six tons humanitarian relief to Ramallah as part of the demonstration.