Israeli soldiers and police have stormed a Palestinian hospital twice over the past week, terrifying staff and patients preventing doctors from providing emergency medical care to critically injured Palestinians who had already been subjected to Israeli violence, a leading rights group has said.
Amnesty International condemned Israeli police and soldiers for causing “absolute mayhem” by carrying out raids on al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem amid the escalation of tensions in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in recent days.
Staff and patients complained that Israeli abuse has followed injured Palestinians to the hospital, with police and soldiers going to the extent of chasing a 19-year-old teenager from Silwan who was severely bleeding after a bullet had hit an artery in his thigh. They had also followed and harassed a young man who was in need of emergency chest surgery all the way into the operating theater.
“I have never been so scared in my life. All I remember were loud sounds and pushing and screaming. It was total chaos… there was blood all over the place on the floor, on the walls,” said one of the hospital nurses.
The corpse of 20-year-old Muhammad Abu Ghannam, who was killed by Israeli forces was frantically carried from the hospital out of fear that the Israeli forces would confiscate it; a practice commonly carried out by Israeli forces in order to use the corpses as bargaining chips.
The head of al-Makassed Hospital, Dr Rafiq Husseini, told Amnesty International that between 20 and 30 heavily armed border guard soldiers and police raided the hospital on the night of 17 July.
الفيديو الكامل بجودة عالية لاقتحام مستشفى المقاصد وأحداث جمعة الغضب
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“They harassed my staff and other patients and were acting in an aggressive manner… they acted without any legal basis, entering the hospital with machine guns and stun grenades and terrorising the staff and other patients,” he said.
“The conduct of Israeli forces who carried out violent raids on al-Makassed hospital harassing and intimidating staff and patients is utterly deplorable. There can be no justification for preventing medical workers from caring for a critically wounded patient,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
Since Friday, a number of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces across Jerusalem and the West Bank in some of the worst street violence in years.
Three Israeli settlers were also stabbed to death in a settlement north of Ramallah.
On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would halt security coordination with Israel until the walk-through metal detectors at the al-Aqsa mosque are removed, fuelling fears of an escalation.
اقتحام مستشفى المقاصد ومواجهات في محيطة
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“If Israel wants security coordination to be resumed they have to withdraw those measures,” Abbas said in a speech on Sunday, referring to the metal detectors.
“They should know that they will eventually lose, because we have been making it our solemn duty to keep up security on our side here and on theirs.”
Security coordination has long been a cornerstone of PA-Israel relations, largely to crack down on Hamas and mass protests, leading to widespread hostility among the Palestinian public.
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