11 October 2015: PRCS has documented 53 attacks against its teams and ambulances in which 37 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) were wounded and around 20 ambulances were damaged since October 3rd when the latest round of attacks by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians in the oPt, including Jerusalem, began. Furthermore. There are 24 cases in which PRCS’ ambulances were hindered and prevented from reaching wounded Palestinians near seam zones.
The majority of attacks (23) took place in occupied Jerusalem. PRCS affirms that these violations aim at hindering the work of its teams and at preventing them from carrying out their humanitarian duty, including reaching injured persons, providing them with First Aid and ensuring their transfer to hospitals. This has increased the suffering of injured persons and their families.
These violations constitute a grave breach of IHL provisions which stipulate that National Societies, such as the Palestine Red Crescent, must be allowed to provide humanitarian services to those in need. Moreover, occupation forces have infringed the four Geneva Conventions by arresting Palestinians from inside PRCS’ ambulances in a crying violation of the sanctity of ambulances and of the Society’s emblem, as well as of the right of the wounded to access medical care. The Fourth Geneva Convention in particular stipulates that the occupying power should assure access to medical services and medical personnel. These violations have forced the wounded to seek alternative means of traveling to hospitals, exacerbating their wounds and endangering their lives.
PRCS calls on the international community represented by political, humanitarian and relief organizations to take practical measures to compel the occupying power to cease all attacks and violations against the wounded, PRCS’ ambulances and teams. Israel should ensure the transfer of injured persons and to ensure that they receive adequate emergency services and are transported to hospital if needed.
PRCS Declares a State of Emergency following the escalation of the attacks against Palestinians and its ambulances in the Past 72 hours
4 October 2015: PRCS declared a level 3 state of emergency in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in response to developments on the ground and increased attacks by occupation forces and settlers.
PRCS also activated its central Operations Room at its HQ in Al-Bireh, with all PRCS’ staff, teams and volunteers put on standby. PRCS announced that fourteen attacks were carried out against its staff and vehicles by occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 72 hours, in a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render.
On Sunday the 4th of October, Israeli occupation soldiers attacked a PRCS’ ambulance in the line of duty in front of Al Quds University in Abou Diss, firing rubber bullets and tear gas grenades at it. On the 2nd of October, occupation soldiers attacked an ambulance in Al Eissawiyeh to the North of Jerusalem. They then proceeded to arrest an injured Palestinian from inside the ambulance. In Boureen (Nablus Governorate), settlers prevented a PRCS’ ambulance from discharging its humanitarian duty and smashed its windshield.
The next day, five PRCS’ paramedics were beaten up by soldiers in Jerusalem. That same day, another group of soldiers attacked with their batons another PRCS’ ambulance in the Old City of Jerusalem Also on the same day, occupation soldiers severely beat another ambulance crew in Jabal Al Taweel (Al-Bireh), wounding two paramedics. They then kidnapped an injured Palestinian from inside the ambulance, firing tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at it.
PRCS underlines that these practices constitute a blatant violation of key IHL provisions, mainly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the protection of civilians in time of war, which legally applies to the oPt. This Convention affords protection to the personnel engaged in the search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians. It also calls for the respect of human life and dignity in times of military occupation. In particular, such practices constitute a crying violation of article 63 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that recognized National Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Lion and Sun) Societies shall be allowed to pursue their activities.
PRCS urges the International Community, represented by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, to shoulder their responsibilities by taking the necessary steps to make Israeli occupation authorities comply with IHL provisions, and to put an end to the targeting of civilians and their properties. It calls on these parties to compel Israel to respect IHL provisions regarding the respect of medical and PRCS’ emblems, and recalls that the occupying power is obliged to protect emergency, medical and relief personnel and to facilitate their safe access to the sick and wounded.