Friday, January 30, 2009

PCHR Report: Human Rights Violations on Palestinian Medical Personnel in Gaza

War on the Wounded: human rights violations perpetrated against Palestinian medical personnel in the Gaza Strip

A PCHR report on attacks perpetrated by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinian medical personnel during the IOF military offensive in Gaza
27 December 2008 – 13 January 2009

Summary: According to PCHR investigations, which include statements from eye-witnesses, IOF have perpetrated crimes amounting to war crimes against medical personnel working in the Gaza Strip, in clear violation of the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, which affords special protection to medical personnel. Since the launch of their military offensive against the population of the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008, IOF have killed seven Palestinian medical personnel, and wounded dozens of others, whilst they were attempting to evacuate and transfer the dead and injured. IOF have launched ground, sea and air attacks targeting medical personnel and medical facilities, including ambulances, and in addition have obstructed the access of medical personnel to the dead and injured.

Blatant IOF attacks against Palestinian medical personnel have undermined their work during this IOF offensive, by obstructing, and sometimes forcibly preventing, their access to dozens of dead and injured civilians across the Gaza Strip. In many cases documented by PCHR, medical personnel were only able to access the dead and injured up to 72 hours after they had been killed or injured. The Centre has also documented cases of IOF denying medical personnel access to people who subsequently bled to death. In addition, medical personnel, and their vehicles, have been obstructed whilst attempting to evacuate the dead and injured from houses and other civilian facilities that had been targeted by IOF, including houses that had been set on fire. Medical personnel were obstructed by IOF vehicles positioned in the vicinity of these houses and other civilian facilities - and, in some instances, IOF continued shelling and bombardments whilst the medical personnel were clearly evacuating the dead and injured.

PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to the (1949) Fourth Geneva Convention, relative to the protection of civilians in times of war, to end their shameful silence regarding abuses being perpetrated by the IOF. In addition, the Centre calls on IOF to immediately cease all human rights violations, including war crimes, being perpetrated against all civilians in the Gaza Strip, including the targeting of humanitarian staff, which includes medical personnel carrying out their duties in ambulances and other civil defense vehicles. The Centre also demands that IOF immediately cease targeting medical facilities, in order that medical personnel be allowed to carry out their duties to protect, and treat, the sick and injured.

Read the full report here

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