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Healthcare staff in the line of fire when violence escalates on the West Bank


IM’s partner Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) expresses in a statement its deep despair at the escalating spiral of violence and the attacks that the Israeli army is subjecting health workers in the West Bank to. According to reports, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are continuing their attacks on civilians and medical personnel in the Palestinian refugee camp Nur Shams in Tulkarem, located in the northern part of the West Bank.

So far, reports have confirmed that 14 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army in the camp. Furthermore, there have been direct attacks on paramedics, with Israeli snipers firing at them while they were carrying out humanitarian missions.

During a two-day siege of the area, ambulances were prevented from reaching the camp. Despite great difficulties, two vehicles managed to enter the camp and were able to transport a few wounded. The vehicles and the medical personnel were detained within the confines of the camp for an hour and a half.

Arbitrary arrests and lack of medical equipment

Medical personnel have been arbitrarily arrested and interrogated while trying to help the injured. Inside the camp, at least 50 people were treated for injuries from gunshots, fractures, suffocation and bites from IDF-dogs. Not all the injured could be reached because paramedics were direct targets. There is also an acute shortage of medical equipment.

The state hospital in the camp was besieged and several employees of the Red Crescent Society were arrested without explanation.

Humanitarian consequences and international requirements

The prevailing situation in the camp, and now also in the town of Tulkarem, has led to an acute shortage of basic necessities such as water, food, electricity and medicines. Among those affected are elderly and vulnerable groups with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, who are now completely without access to treatment or medicines.

PMRS calls on the international community to act in accordance with international humanitarian law (IHL). The attacks on health care workers and health care infrastructure are in direct violation of IHL. The organization recalls the devastating effects of previous attacks on health care in Gaza and warns that the West Bank risks ending up in a similar catastrophic situation.

Here you can read the entire statement.

By: Malin Kihlström