Holy Land: ambulances under attack

 Christian sources in the Holy Land have reported that there has been an increase in attacks on ambulances in the last few days. At Za'tara checkpoint in Nablus, at 1.30 pm on Monday, 17 November, Morayad Mahmoud Saleh, a Palestinian Medical Relief Member of Staff, was travelling in an ambulance with an International member of Staff. The purpose of the journey was to carry out a field visit to a patient. Israeli soldiers and border police stopped the ambulance; physically and verbally threatened the members of staff, searched the ambulance and then proceeded to damage it. Despite holding the ambulance for four hours, they gave no reason for their actions. Also at Za'tara checkpoint, on the same day at 3.30 pm, Tareq Yousef Khaled was transporting a disabled patient for treatment. The Israeli occupation forces and border police again stopped the ambulance. Whilst physically and verbally threatening him, the soldiers subjected Tareq to a body search, and went on to search the ambulance. The soldiers also wanted to carry out a body search on the patient, but after an hour of negotiation, let the ambulance pass. The soldiers gave no reason for this abuse, even though it was traumatic for both patient and staff. On 19 November, Abdul Razaq Abed Abdel Razaq, was travelling with two other members of staff. Upon reaching the Hisma checkpoint, which lies on the road between Ramallah and Jericho, Israeli soldiers denied the ambulance the right to pass. Despite being on an emergency mission, the ambulance was delayed for half an hour. Attacks upon medical teams are occurring with increased frequency, despite International Law relating to the neutrality of health services. Patients being taken to hospital in civilian cars, including pregnant women going into labour, and heart attack patients already face long journeys because of closed roads. Extended delays at checkpoints have been responsible for several deaths in recent months. Healthcare workers are very concerned that ambulances are now being treated with the same disregard.

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