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Photo: Reuters
Palestinian ambulance in West Bank
Photo: Reuters
Delays at checkpoints challenged
Medical organizations file petition with High Court of Justice following report showing 73% of ambulances delayed at entrance to east Jerusalem in 2007
A petition was filed with the High Court of Justice Sunday, requesting the state be ordered to implement the procedure of “treating a West Bank resident who arrives at a checkpoint in emergency medical condition”, and allow the transfer of the sick and injured in need of urgent medical care to medical centers in east Jerusalem.

 

Physicians for Human Rights, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, and the local council of Izariyah filed the petition following the publication of a report by PHR, which examined the issue of Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances transferring patients to advanced hospitals in east Jerusalem.

 

The report showed that 73% of Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances were denied entry into east Jerusalem in 2007. The report also showed that in the majority of cases, ambulances which were allowed entry had still been delayed at checkpoints from anywhere between one to six hours.

 

The petitioners demanded ambulances be allowed entry into east Jerusalem in emergency cases without Palestinian medical staff having to coordinate the arrival of the ambulances at the checkpoints, where Israeli ambulances then transfer patients to east Jerusalem medical centers.

 

The petitioners claimed the system posed medical danger to patients due to the delays that it causes. They further demanded that medical staff, and not the checkpoint commander, be given the authority to decide whether or not to allow patients entry to east Jerusalem.

 

In support of their request, the petitioners presented the case of Radi al-Wahash, an 18-year-old Palestinian who died at a checkpoint after the ambulance he was in was denied permission to cross into east Jerusalem.

 

Al-Wahash sustained head injuries as a result of a car accident in Bethlehem. A Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, an Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance, and a military ambulance all arrived at the scene, and decided that the MDA ambulance should transfer al-Wahash to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

 

While the ambulance transferring al-Wahash was already on its way to Israel, a medical coordinator with the civil administration demanded that the Red Crescent ambulance evacuate al-Wahash to a hospital in the West Bank.

 

While medical teams awaited approval to transfer him to Israel for treatment, the 18-year-old Palestinian boy died of his wounds.

 

“The interference of security forces in decisions that should be strictly medical prevents the implementation of understandings reached in a memo between MDA and the Red Crescent,” PHR director Hadas Ziv said.

 

The memo referred to by Ziv was signed in November 2005 between the two medical organizations, which paved the way for other organizations to join the international confederation of the Red Cross.

 

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