Aseel Baidoun, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager for Medical Aid for Palestinians working in the occupied West Bank, Palestine, describes Israel's attacks against Palestinian healthcare workers and facilities in the Jenin refugee camp this week during Israel's illegal incursion and massacre of 12 Palestinians.
Hello, I am Aseel Baidoun, the Advocacy and Campaigns Manager working for Medical Aid For Palestinians (MAP) and I am based in the West Bank.
I want to tell you more in detail on what happened on Monday July 3rd, where the Israeli military launched an aerial attack and ground invasion on the densely populated Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank.
Jenin refugee camp is home to thousands of already displaced Palestinians that were left homeless during the Nakba 75 years ago, and they have been facing the brutality of the Israeli occupation ever since.
But what happened over the last two days is something we have not witnessed since the Second Intifada. Israeli forces bombarded the camp with airstrikes – and airstrikes have not been used in the West Bank [for] twenty years – which killed 12 Palestinians including five children and injured more than 140. In addition, we have 3,500 Palestinians internally displaced because their houses were either damaged or they left because of safety concerns.
During the attack on Jenin, MAP has been following the situation on the ground and was working really closely with the [Palestinian] Ministry of Health and health cluster to coordinate the best-needed response. In addition, I was interviewing the [Palestinian Red Crescent Society] medical workers and one of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society health workers told me that many of the Palestinians injured were left to bleed in the streets because medical teams were prevented from accessing the camp.
In one incident Israeli forces confiscated the keys of two ambulances belonging to PRCS in addition to seizing the mobile phones of the teams who were trying to respond to an emergency call. In another incident there was an ambulance carrying a woman in labour, but the ambulance was obstructed while trying to get the woman to the hospital.
The sanctity of hospitals was also violated as Israeli soldiers stormed two hospitals in Jenin, firing live ammunition and injuring Palestinians inside the hospital. Unfortunately, these are the not the only violations health workers have experienced this year. From January to May , PRCS teams have reported 149 violations, a 255% increase in violations compared to 2022.
In a startling development, PRCS has started to provide medical teams with bulletproof vests and helmets as if they were soldiers. In addition to MAP’s partner in the West Bank, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, their teams are also requesting some kind of protection for the emergency responders. These most recent incidents reflect a persistent and clear pattern of attacks on Palestinian health workers over many years and Israel’s disregard for its obligations under international law is really salient.
Immediate action is needed to protect Palestinian civilians and healthcare personnel and make it really clear to the government of Israel that further violations will be met with meaningful diplomatic and political consequences.
Monday’s incursions into Jenin is just one of the latest of the dozens of the Israeli military raids into the Palestinian towns in the West Bank. The Israeli forces and settlers have so far this year killed 157 Palestinians, which surpassed the number already in 2022, where the UN declared it was the deadliest year for Palestinians since they started recording in 2005.
Despite the end of this particularly deadly incursion, the root causes of the violence still persists and Palestinians and health workers, the violations against them remain unaddressed. And the ongoing failure of the international community to puncture the impunity has been fuelling these violations.
We need to ensure that paramedic and ambulance teams do not remain in the firing line. This directly endangers health workers and civilians not only in Palestine, but it erodes their protection in other countries. No country, no country must be permitted to exhibit these violations against international law with no accountability.