PHR-Israel: New East Jerusalem movement restrictions severely affect the timely delivery of health care
On 14 October 2015, Israeli security forces started implementing movement restrictions throughout East Jerusalem. Over twenty roads are currently blocked by concrete barricades and fourteen military checkpoints, delaying patient arrivals, medical teams and evacuations to Al-Hilal, Al-Makassed, Al-Amira Basma, Al-Mutla, Saint-John and Saint-Joseph hospitals.
According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society in Jerusalem, it now takes between 30 and 60 minutes longer to evacuate patients from the field. As an ambulance approaches a checkpoint, it is not allowed to overtake other vehicles before receiving authorization from the unit manning the checkpoint. Once an authorization has been received, security forces carry out a search, which lasts a few minutes more. At peak traffic times -between 6-10 am and 2-5 pm- ambulances are regularly blocked for half an hour at the checkpoint itself.
These barriers may entail tragic consequences, as for sixty-five year-old Huda Darwish, a resident of Issawiya, who died from a heart attack on 19 October 2015. Darwish started feeling ill at 3 a.m., when the roads leading in and out of Issawiya were closed for the night by security forces. The family did not call an ambulance, assuming it would not be allowed in, and drove to the only manned checkpoint. It took them about half an hour to get to Hadassah Har Hatzofim hospital, when a normal trip should have lasted just a few minutes. Huda Darwish was pronounced dead shortly after doctors tried to save her.
Such severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of all East Jerusalem Palestinians constitute collective punishment that is prohibited under international law. Moreover, these barriers violate the residents' right to health and to freedom of movement, while taking a heavy toll on the work of medical teams.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel urges the international community to intervene with the relevant authorities, requesting that the checkpoints within Jerusalem be removed, in particular those located near the hospitals and on evacuation routes, and that medical teams may carry out their work unimpeded.
For further information, please contact:
International Advocacy Coordinator
Physicians for Human Rights â€“ Israel
052 742 45 14 / firstname.lastname@example.org