In light of the current climate of tensions in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem particularly which has led to deadly attacks on civilians and the unacceptable systematic use of lethal force by Israeli forces against Palestinians, the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) calls for the respect of international humanitarian law and condemns in the strongest terms the excessive use of lethal force by Israeli forces which has resulted on several occasions within the past three weeks in what can only be described as executions of Palestinian men and women.
PMRS calls on international non-governmental institutions, as well as all levels of international civil society to demand Israel respect its obligations under international law and pressure the Israeli government to abandon at once its logic of brutal repression and unrestrained use of force against children and young people.
Since a settler attack burnt a baby alive and killed both his parents in the village of Duma in the West Bank in July 2013, the security situation has steadily deteriorated within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, culminating in the violence that has dominated the past few days resulting in several civilian fatalities.
PMRS unequivocally condemns attacks on civilians without discrimination, especially the unlawful extra-judicial killings by Israeli forces. In only three weeks, 7 Palestinians were shot dead, 1 of them by a settler, 6 by Israeli forces. None of them was over 21 years old and there has been no independent investigation in any of these, in spite of facts being seriously disputed in 3 of these incidents. In fact, Israeli officials admitted to killing a 13-year old boy near Bethlehem on Monday by “mistake”, an announcement that has been followed by so little outrage or demands for accountability that it is mind-blowing. Furthermore, in at least 3 of the deaths listed above, photographic and video evidence show that the victims were not posing any serious threat at the time they were shot and killed. Yet here again, it seems very unlikely that there will be any reliable investigation into what are likely murders.
Moreover, an estimated 800 Palestinians were injured during clashes over the past four days only. At least 51 of them were shot with live ammunition, while another 232 suffered injuries from rubber-coated steel bullets. Almost 489 people were victim of excessive tear gas inhalations. Israeli forces have also targeted medical vehicle and personnel, in clear violation of the fourth Geneva convention. Such attacks on unarmed civilians and medical personnel are completely unacceptable and must stop immediately.
The violence of the past few days did not happen in a vacuum but rather is the inevitable result of the Israeli occupation and the ever-growing repression and Human Rights violations that come with it. Colonization, home demolitions, displacement of entire families, the impunity granted to settlers and armed forces, indiscriminate shooting and bombing of civilians… all these have been going on for decades with the international community idly watching by, hiding behind a long-time moribund peace process and the Oslo accords which have been emptied of their meaning and purpose by continuous Israeli violations. In recent decades, European countries have spent millions of Euros of taxpayers’ money to rebuild what Israel keeps destroying with impunity, from Palestinian homes, water supplies, livelihood to their very lives. This has to stop now.
PMRS calls on the international community to demand that Israel cease its serious breaches of Human Rights and humanitarian law at once, failing which, economic and political sanctions should be considered.
PMRS, just as other local and international health organizations has activated its emergency response plan in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. First aid teams, ambulances and mobile clinic vehicles are on the ground, ready to deploy to areas of need as they arise. Considering the level of tensions and the absence of any prompt resolution in sight, PMRS has concerns about its capacity to sustain its work during these times of emergency due to low funding and chronic medication shortages. Accordingly, PMRS calls on all international donors to allocate contingency funding and medical supplies to the current emergency.