Palestinian Medical Relief Society 18 May 2004
Not content with launching a full-scale attack upon the residents of Rafah killing 16 the Israeli occupation forces are preventing medical teams from accessing the dead and injured. Despite international condemnation of their attacks, the occupation forces have also defied International Law yet again, by denying civilians the right to medical care. The hospital in Rafah is overflowing with the casualties that ambulances were able to reach, but those they could not lie dying in their homes and streets. So far PMRS has received the following news:
Said Lemghayer (23) from the Tel El Sultan neighborhood in Rafah, died instantly when Israeli snipers shot him whilst he was standing outside his house. His family tried to transfer him to a hospital but the occupation forces prevented the ambulance from reaching him. Snipers have been planted on every rooftop in the area and are shooting at anyone they see. As a result, repeated attempts by the ambulance to get to Said were met with heavy firing. Eventually the family had to resort to putting him in shop refrigerator that is normally used to store dairy products.
Fathi Abu Ermaneh (35) was shot in the neck by a sniper whilst standing in the street. However, medical teams have not been able to reach him because the snipers start shooting as soon as they attempt to move. He remains in the street and because no one can reach him, they do not know if he is dead or alive.
On the outskirts of Rafah, Munira As Siguli was injured whilst in her house. Again, snipers have prevented the ambulance from reaching her, so nobody knows whether she is dead or alive.
Witnesses have reported that there is film footage showing an ambulance attempting to reach an injured person lying on the ground. Due to the intense shooting the ambulance is prevented from doing so. In the end one of the team has to get out of the ambulance and drag the body towards the vehicle.
A woman from the Abu Ghali family in Tel Al Sultan attempted to get to a hospital as she was about to give birth. Again she was prevented from doing so and with aid of the local women, had to give birth at home, placing the life of both Mother and child at risk.
A brother and sister from Tel Al Sultan, around ten and eleven years old and called Ahmed and Asma AlMughayer, were shot whilst inside their home. The ambulance was prevented from accessing them and the hospital has now been informed that they bled to death. The hospital is appealing to all human rights and humanitarian organizations to help them in facilitating the transfer of these two dead children to hospital.
Ismail Balawi was killed a few hours ago after his son was killed this morning. However, he has two children who are injured but stuck in their house with ambulances unable to reach them. These two children are in a very serious health situation as they are both bleeding heavily. We again urge you to contact International Humanitarian organizations to help ambulances to reach them.
There are many more reports about people being killed or injured in areas such as Qadisia and Akbet bin Nafe’ but because no one is allowed to reach them, we are unable to confirm their condition.
The Abu Yusef Al Najar hospital used to be a local clinic but was converted to a hospital when the Intifada started. It lacks many amenities, including an intensive care unit. It has no electricity and is now dependant on a generator. The hospital cannot receive all the injured and three of the dead have had to be stored in a room because there is not enough space in the morgue. After coordinating with the Israelis, the hospital was given permission to transfer the injured to the European and Nasser hospitals in Khan Yunis. However, once the ambulances began to move the patients, they came under heavy fire, and had to abandon the mission.
According to witnesses the Israeli soldiers have also imposed an ambush around a series of ambulances. They allowed them to enter Tel Al Sultan from Rafah in order to collect patients and transfer them to the Abu Yousef Najar hospital in Rafah, but on their return journey the occupation forces surrounded six of these ambulances preventing them from leaving the Tel Al Sultan medical clinic. They also demolished the clinic’s fence.
In addition to the dead and injured, patients with chronic and non-communicable diseases are being prevented from accessing treatment. There are a considerable number of patients urgently requiring dialysis and chemotherapy but can not get to hospital, which places their health in a critical situation.
PMRS is asking the International community to contact all humanitarian, human rights and health organizations to intervene by pressurizing the Israeli occupation forces to allow the free movement of medical teams. The Israeli occupation forces’ appalling disregard for the Palestinians’ right to access to medical care must be prevented otherwise there will be a serious humanitarian disaster in Rafah.