Guaranteeing the protection and neutrality
of medical personnel is one of the most important functions of
international humanitarian law.
The Israeli army systematically violates the right of Palestinian
civilians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to
medical care in numerous ways:
Attacks on Emergency
Medical Personnel. The Israeli army has killed at least
15 on-duty medical personnel during the al-Aqsa Intifada, and
injured at least 206.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, 10 of its
ambulances have been destroyed and 80% of its ambulance fleet
has been damaged. Palestinian paramedics have also been arrested,
beaten, and used as human shields on numerous occasions. A number
of wounded Palestinians have died after Israeli forces refused to
allow medical personnel access to them.
hospitals and infrastructure.
During their attacks on Palestinian cities, Israeli forces have
shelled and raided hospitals and clinics, including Ramallah,
Bethlehem, Hebron, and al-Bireh, disrupting health care for
patients. These attacks have included: destruction of medical
equipment; beating, detention, and harassment of medical personnel;
use of medical personnel as human shields; forced closure of
hospitals; and converting medical facilities into military
outposts. In addition, Israeli attacks on Palestinian
infrastructure and industry have severely affected the health
sector; since early 2002, Israeli forces have prevented work at the
al-Ghusain factory, the only manufacturer of medical oxygen in the
At least 43 Palestinians have died due during the al-Aqsa
Intifada to delayed or obstructed access to medical care at Israeli
checkpoints, often within short driving distance of hospital. In
over a dozen cases, women have been forced to give birth at
checkpoints, resulting in at least 5 stillbirths. The
Israeli army frequently detains, delays, or altogether denies
passage to ambulances or emergency patients at the checkpoints it
has established around nearly every Palestinian city, village, and
refugee camp in the West Bank.
Military Zones.” Israeli forces
attacking Palestinian areas routinely seal them off for hours, days,
or weeks, denying access to medical workers, humanitarian supplies,
and independent observers. Declaring areas to be “closed military
zones” has led to numerous deaths that could have been averted with
timely medical care.
[Last updated 2 June 2002]