Palestine Red Crescent Society 21 July 2004
NABLUS (Beit Furik Checkpoint) — The unnecessary delay of access by the Israeli soldiers for nearly an hour and prohibiting the PRCS medics from reaching the ambulance to continue the administration of emergency medical care to the critically ill patient contributed to the death of a 65 year-old male.
A PRCS ambulance was stopped and delayed access for nearly an hour by the Israeli soldiers at Beit Furik checkpoint (road gate manned by Israeli soldiers from a lookout tower), while on route to transport a sick person in critical condition to a local hospital.
At 23:20pm, the PRCS ambulance reached the road gate and the sick person was waiting in a taxi at the other side of the road gate. The gate was closed and the soldiers were sitting inside the tower. The medics waited for the soldiers to get out and open the gate, but this did not happen. After waiting for 15 minutes, one of the patient’s family members called on the medics to bring the stretcher and transport the patient. The PRCS medics tried to open the gate but to no avail. Instead, they passed the stretcher from below the gate. When the medics reached the patient, who was conscious, they transferred him on to the stretcher and attached the oxygen mask. At that moment, the soldiers came out of tower and began shouting at the crew for attempting to carry the patient to the ambulance that was waiting at the other side of the gate.
The soldiers threatened the medics using gunfire and prohibited them from approaching the ambulance and as a consequence, the medics were unable to secure the medical bag and blanket for the patient.
At 23:50, an Israeli military officer approached the road gate and took the identity cards of the patient and his family members for checking. Although the PRCS medics tried to explain to him the patient’s critical condition and the urgency to transport him to hospital immediately, the officer refused to allow them to pass and ordered them to wait until he finished checking the IDs. As they were waiting, the medics noticed that the patient began to lose consciousness and shortly afterwards, there was no pulse and his breathing had stopped. The medics immediately began to administer cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
At 00:17, the Israeli military officer allowed the medics to transfer the patient into the ambulance and to proceed to hospital.
At 00:21 the 65 year-old male reached the hospital, where he was declared dead by hospital officials.
These practices constitute a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva conventions, which are legally applied to the occupied Palestinian territories. In particular, they violate articles 63 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which stresses that
“Subject to temporary and exceptional measures imposed for urgent reasons of security by the Occupied Power, recognized National red cross and red crescent societies shall be able to pursue their activities in accordance with Red Cross principles, as defined by the international Red Cross Conferences…” In addition to article 21 of the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva conventions, which stresses that,” Medical vehicles shall be respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units under the Conventions and this Protocol.”