Westbank overview

In Nablus, currently under fire, Medical Relief has set up six field hospitals; the situation in two of them is dire. One of them, a mosque in the old city, reports 50 people injured, three of those in critical condition, 15 in serious condition.

Doctors in the mosque have to operate with minimal equipment, five corpses in the room in which they operate. Israeli snipers on the roofs of the surrounding buildings shoot at any one trying to get to or from the mosque. Apache helicopters regularly attack the region; missiles have already destroyed several houses belonging to the Al-Usta family in the old city. It is reported that there are three people lying wounded in the near by streets, but no one is able to bring them to the mosque – the ambulances are prevented from moving. Also in the old city three health workers report they were taken by Israeli soldiers and used as human shields as the soldiers went from house to house searching.

The same situation is true for the field hospital in the Askar refugee camp. Israeli apache helicopters have shot missiles leaving seven people injured, two of them critically. Four bodies are known to be in the streets, but an ambulance given permission from the Israeli military to collect them came under fire, and had the tyres shot out. At the time of writing, soldiers were still shooting at the ambulance, but UPMRC lost contact with them.

Our sources in Jenin report the same dreadful humanitarian situation. The Israeli army has attacked continuously throughout the night, the refugee camp and the city. Apache helicopters have attacked and seriously damaged around 50 houses in the western side of the camp, 20 people are reported injured, bleeding in the street. Reports from the inhabitants are that there are 15 dead bodies in different locations, but again ambulances came under attack when trying to gain access to these bodies – this time with ammunition from the helicopters.

Yesterday at Al Razi hospital in Jenin, doctors and medics watched on helplessly as 28-year-old Nidal Al Haj bled to death inside the hospital yard. Dr. Ali Jabareen from the hospital explained how ‘the medics waited for a long time, but they could get to him because of the shelling’. Not so dramatic, but still life threatening, pregnant women, patients needing kidney dialysis, heart attack victims, and diabetic patients also are prevented from reaching medical treatment on which their lives depend. Hospitals report a shortage of oxygen and other medical supplies.

The latest news from Jenin is that the Israel army is systematically bulldozing houses in the refugee camp, which is home to some 15,000 Palestinians in an area of one kilometre squared. This is happening at the same time they are dropping tear gas from helicopters on the camp. For two days the camp has resisted the Israeli invasion so now the nature of the invasion has changed – bulldozing homes with the inhabitants inside.

Yatta near Hebron also came under sustained Israeli attack from 3AM this morning. Dozens of tanks surrounded the town and opened fire on the inhabitants. The hospital reported two Palestinians were killed while in their homes – Jamal Hamad Karaysh, 22, live ammunition to his head, and Nader Jamil Al Khadder, 21, live ammunition to his chest. The hospital buried them in the cemetery, immediately and without a funeral, as they were afraid that after the Israeli army completely invades the town a health crisis could erupt – similar to the crisis in the other West Bank towns where bodies sit in hospitals and homes decomposing, as they cannot be buried.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, director of UPMRC, who is under siege in Ramallah, said, ‘this total humanitarian disaster has been intentionally created by the Israeli army. Now in Jenin and Nablus, the Israeli army is doing the same they have done in the other West Bank towns, preventing access of medical services to injured and sick people. This is systematic and planned. The Israeli commanders claim that it is safe for a vehicle to move, or that it is safe for ambulances and humanitarian workers, but the soldiers on the street then blatantly open fire on our ambulances. They are creating this humanitarian disaster – are using it as an instrument of political control.’

The UPMRC issued a statement yesterday warning against epidemics, caused by decomposing bodies trapped in homes and several health facilities.

Update: Midnight — The town of Kobatia, near Jenin was today attack and re-occupied, as was the town of At-Teel near Tulkaram.

Yatta, a town that this morning was under attack has also been completely, violently reoccupied. Furthermore tanks block the entrance of An-Nasr Hospital in Yatta, preventing all movement of ambulances. This prevention of movement of ambulances, medical teams and the sick and injured has occurred time and again in the last week – we do not know how many people have died from prevention of medical treatment.

At Fo’uar refugee camp near Yatta, Rubin Jamil Likhdur, 16 years old, was shot dead while in his own home during the Israeli attacks.

A doctor at Al-Aatamad hospital, Othman Abu Subha, informed us that Israeli soldiers and snipers had shot the water tanks on the roof off the hospital – so there is now no water.

The Church of the Nativity in the Holy city of Bethlehem is currently being attack, and the fruit and vegetable market across from the Church was burnt today.

In Jenin, Israeli bulldozers are currently destroying the houses in the refugee camp. Many houses thus far have been destroyed. This destruction of the eastern and northern parts of the refugee camps took place under the cover of live ammunition from tanks and helicopters. According to a witness, who is close to the entrance to the camp, in the western areas soldiers are currently gathering up women from the area and holding them in a yard. Israeli forces have taken over some parts of the camp – this morning they were surrounding the areas, now they are next to the houses. Shelling still continues, but there is no information about killed or injured as the ambulances are unable to reach the scene.

We have, and still are, appealing to the world to take action in this crisis. The events occurring in Jenin and other areas fill Palestinians with fear about what may occur, about the imminent bloodshed.

Up till now the ambulances and medical teams are still prevented from reaching the sick and injured. Many lives are being lost throughout the West Bank because of the prevention of medical care especially in Jenin and Nablus.

Dr Barghouti said that the ‘mobilization of the people around the world to demonstrate for the Palestinians shows many governments are lagging behind the will of their people. Demonstrations have taken place worldwide. We thank people for what they have done thus far, and appeal to the governments to act now. We appeal to the world to put immediate pressure on Israel to allow freedom of movement for medical teams and the sick, and the wounded.’