Palestinian Medical Personnel  Between Fire and their Duty to Remove the Wounded and Sick

11 April 2001 – 31 August 2002



This report documents grave breaches, including war crimes, of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949 perpetrated by Israeli occupying forces against medical personnel operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) betweem 11 April 2001 –1 August 2002.[1]

 During this period Israeli occupying forces invaded highly populated Palestinian areas, creating a humanitarian crisis, while at the same time restricting the access of medical personnel to patients in need of medical assistance, including those wounded by Israeli forces, in the areas under assault. The denial of access of humanitarian organizations that provide relief consignments and/or medical services, into areas affected by a humanitarian crises constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, further defined as a war crime in Additional Protocol I. Israeli war crimes in raided areas also included willful and extra-judicial killing of the Palestinian civilian population[2] and destruction of civilian property, both of which are prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention. On one occasion Israeli occupying forces denied ambulances access to those wounded in incursion operations for a 2 week period, causing an increase in fatalities among those injured by Israeli forces during these operations.   

 On Friday, 29 March 2002, more than 2000 tanks and armored personnel carriers, dozens of warplanes and combat helicopters and more than 60,000 well armed soldiers launched a full-scale offensive on Palestinian communities in the West Bank.  Hundreds of Palestinians were killed or wounded, and many houses were destroyed. Israeli occupying forces also destroyed civilian facilities and infrastructure and attacked religious sites.  In one instance Israeli forces imposed a siege on the Church of the Nativity for approximately 40 days. Furthermore, in violation of Palestinian cultural rights, Israeli forces carried out assaults against educational institutions and cultural centers in the OPTs.

 In the Jenin refugee camp and the town of Nablus, Israeli occupying forces, acting on orders issued by the Israeli political and military establishments, including key governmental figures such as Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz,[3] perpetrated widespread violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes. Astonishingly, the international community has remained silent towards Israeli abuses in the OPTs.  The United States even went so far as to praise the Israeli government for its behavior; during this period President Bush described the Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon as “a man of peace who makes justified acts to defend  Israeli security.”



The full report is available in PDF format.





[1] PCHR issued another report on Israeli attacks on medical personnel covering the period 29 September 2000 – 10 April 2001.


[2] Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention defines protected persons as follows: “Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals… Persons protected by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949, or by the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of August 12, 1949, or by the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949, shall not be considered as protected persons within the meaning of the present Convention.”


[3] Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated on 5 March 2002: “We should strike on Palestinians very painfully, and cause them losses and casualties to make them feel the high price.”