In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded 59 Israeli attacks against Palestinian health care in the occupied Palestinian territory, according to the latest WHO report on health access in the occupied territories.
Of these, 42 percent (25) involved obstruction to the delivery of health care services, including 12 incidents of obstructing access for ambulances to reach persons who had been fatally wounded.
Meanwhile, 61% of incidents (36) involved physical violence against health workers, ambulances, and health facilities, and six incidents involved the detention of health care workers, ambulances, patients, and patient companions.
During the last three months of 2020, WHO recorded 15 health attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory. Of these, seven involved physical attacks against health workers, ambulances, and health facilities, and nine involved obstructions to health care delivery, including five incidents of obstruction of access for health teams to persons fatally injured.
On 24 November, a Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) paramedic team was near Tayaseer checkpoint in the northern Jordan Valley – Tubas area in the West Bank, providing first aid to people injured during confrontations. The PRCS team was physically attacked as they attempted to provide first aid to a person who sustained an abdominal wound from injury with a rubber-coated bullet.
Several Israeli soldiers attempted to board the ambulance and to arrest the wounded person by force, unaccompanied by medical personnel. In addition to this, tear gas canisters were fired at the ambulance during the confrontations, while the PRCS team was providing emergency medical services to injured persons inside the ambulance.
On 11 December, a paramedic working with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) was beaten with the butt of a gun and kicked while providing first aid to persons injured in confrontations during a demonstration held to protest the expansion of a settlement and confiscation of land near Kufr Malek village in the West Bank.
The paramedic reported that Israeli soldiers sprayed pepper spray in his face and he suffered gas inhalation during the incident. The paramedic was taken to the Palestinian Medical Complex Hospital in Ramallah after losing consciousness, was hospitalized there, returning to work from sick leave after more than a week. During the same confrontations, two PRCS volunteers were injured after they were physically attacked while providing first aid to persons injured, sustaining several bruises.
On 4 November, 29-year-old Bilal Adnan Ayed was shot by Israeli forces while driving his car towards a checkpoint near A’warta village, northeast of Nablus district in the West Bank. Israeli forces alleged an attempted ramming. Following the incident, the soldiers closed the road and prevented a PRCS ambulance from reaching the injured man. An Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance later arrived, with the announcement of Bilal’s death after the transfer of his body.
Vulnerability to attacks against health care in the occupied Palestinian territory has persisted in 2020, said WHO, adding that it is working to enhance monitoring and support systems for health care workers and to strengthen the voices of those affected.
It called for the protection of health care and an end to attacks.