“PRCS’ Emergency Medial Technician (EMT) A’aed Al Bura’i (27) received a call at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday the 26th of July, indicating several civilian casualties in Al Masreen Street to the East of Beit Hanoun. When the call came in through their ambulance radio, A’aed and two of his colleagues were parked close to Al Masreen Street in line with the Emergency Plan implemented by PRCS’ Emergency Center in Northern Gaza, aimed at deploying ambulances in various areas to ensure their speedy access to targeted zones.
A’aed told the ambulance driver to head to the targeted street. A’aed, who started working as a volunteer with PRCS’ Emergency Medical Services three years ago, insisted on being there for PRCS’ and for all Palestinians during this Israeli offensive. He refused to sit idly at home with his wife and two babies, the eldest of whom is less than two years old, joining PRCS’ teams and volunteers in the field.
In less two minutes, the ambulance was 50 meters away from Al Masreen Street, where several Israeli shells left tens of Palestinian casualties. A’aed took the ambulance’s two-way radio in his hand to inform the EMS center that they were now very close to the scene when the ambulance came under intense and direct fire from the Israeli occupation army.
The ambulance turned right to avoid the shots, but Israeli tanks were adamant on preventing it from reaching the scene. A tank shell was fired at the ambulance, hitting it in the back. The force of the explosion was such that the three men flew off the ground, with bleeding wounds and shrapnel injuries. The worst wounds were those sustained by A’aed. The explosion took one of his legs while shrapnel wounded him in the head, the neck and the hand.
His two colleagues were appalled by the scene before them: A’aed lay in a pool of blood with parts of his body scattered around him.
The Israeli artillery resumed firing shells at the ambulance. The ambulance, which clearly bears the internationally-protected Red Crescent emblem, had its siren wailing and its warning lights still on. But all these precautions were to no avail, as A’aed lay on the ground, bleeding, wishing that international law, which calls for the protection and respect of emergency service providers in time of war, could save him.
Two shells hit the ambulance directly, setting it and A’aed’s body ablaze, in a gory scene. Only then, when the soldiers knew for certain that they had put an end to this ambulance’s mission, did the shelling stop.”
| Last updated: 07:00 GMT, 05 August 2014
“For about 20 days, Dr. Ahmed – who is in his mid 30s – has been working as a surgeon in the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza. What makes him persevere, he said, is “the humanitarian mission he is performing, which is no less important than that of the fighters on the battlefield.”
A large number of physicians, especially those affiliated with the former Hamas government, have not been paid their salaries for four months. Nevertheless, they are still doing their job just like the rest of the doctors who have been paid by the national consensus government because they had been appointed by the former Ramallah government.
Ahmed sipped a cup of coffee and held a cigarette in his hand as he stood in front of a window overlooking the gate of the only hospital in the area. He has not seen his family in more than 10 days and has not slept in many hours. He decided to have coffee instead of food since he lost his appetite because of the harrowing scenes of the martyrs and the wounded arriving in droves.
Less than five minutes into his break, two ambulances arrived at the Kamal Adwan Hospital carrying people who had been injured in the Abraj al-Sheikh Zayed area north of the Jabalya refugee camp. With his stethoscope dangling around his neck, he rushed forward to check on the condition of the wounded.
Most of the doctors in Gaza have not been able to see their families during the war that has lasted for more than 29 days, resulting in over 1,850 martyrs and close to 9,000 injured persons. Some of them even exchanged their Eid al-Fitr wishes with their families over the phone.
It should be noted that the war has claimed the lives of more than 10 medical workers in Gaza. Furthermore, about 13 hospitals were targeted and nine ambulances destroyed. According to the Health Ministry’s statistics, the Israeli war led to the closure of 27 medical centers in different areas of the Gaza Strip while health facilities are experiencing severe shortages in equipment and medications.”
“…a ceasefire is not enough.
We demand justice. We demand accountability. We demand to be treated as human beings, to have our inherent human dignity recognized. We demand an end to the closure of the Gaza Strip.
For the last seven years, Israel has subjected the Gaza Strip to a strict closure. By shutting the borders, Israel has slowly suffocated Gaza, subjecting us to a process of deliberate de-development.
Before the current offensive, 65 percent of the population were unpaid or unemployed. Eight-five percent of the population depended on food aid distributed by international organizations. Patients requiring life-saving treatment unavailable in the Gaza Strip were denied permission to leave. They died.
Life under the closure is not life. We cannot go back to this reality. I cannot imagine another seven years. The closure signifies the absence of hope. It means that Gaza’s youth have no future. No jobs. No opportunity to leave. Even when the war comes, we cannot flee.
But the closure is only one half of the reality of the Gaza Strip. The other is the total absence of the rule of law. War crimes are committed with complete impunity. The closure itself is a war crime and it is official policy of the government of Israel.
Beside this there are the constant attacks and the frequent offensives. This is the third major offensive since the closure began. Literally thousands of civilians have been killed. Thousands more homes and livelihoods have been destroyed.
These war crimes are committed with complete impunity. After Operation Cast Lead — the 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009 offensive — PCHR submitted 490 criminal complaints on behalf of 1,046 victims. In the five years that followed, we received only 44 responses. The Israeli authorities decided that 446 cases didn’t even warrant a reply.
One soldier was convicted for the theft of a credit card and received a seven-month sentence.
Two soldiers were convicted for using a nine-year-old boy as a human shield. They each received a three-month suspended sentence.
One soldier was convicted for the “misuse of a firearm” in relation to the shooting of a group of civilians carrying white flags, which resulted in the deaths of two women. He was sentenced to 45 days imprisonment.
This is not justice. The impact of these constant war crimes, and the resultant impunity denies our very dignity, our worth as human beings. It says our lives are not sacred. That we don’t count.
Faced with this existence, our demands are not excessive. They are not unrealistic.
We want to be treated as equals. We want to have our rights respected and protected. We ask that international law be applied, equally, to Israel and Palestine, to Israelis and Palestinians. The rule of international law must be adhered to, and all those responsible for its violations must be held to account.
We ask that suspected war crimes be investigated and those responsible prosecuted. Is this unreasonable?
We want an end to the closure. The illegality of Israel’s closure policy is not in doubt. In a rare public statement the International Committee of the Red Cross explicitly stated that Israel’s closure policy constitutes collective punishment in violation of international law. The consequences of the policy are evident in the reality of the Gaza Strip.
We ask that the closure be lifted. We want the opportunity to live a life in dignity. Is this unreasonable?
These are not political demands. They are a demand to be treated as human.
A ceasefire is not enough. It will not end the suffering. It will only move us from the horror of death by bombardment to the horror of death by slow strangulation.
We cannot go back to being prisoners in a cage that Israel rattles when it chooses with brutal destructive offensives.”
“The PRCS condemns the targeting of Israeli occupation forces of two of its EMS teams. One of its ambulances was targeted in the afternoon (Friday- 257)in Beit Hanoun leading to the death of EMT volunteer Aaed Borei, 27 years old, and the wounding of three EMTs causing them moderate injuries. The PRCS equally deplores the targeting of its crews when they tried to recover the body of the killed EMT and evacuate the wounded, although they had been given the green light by occupation forces via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Till this minute, the body of Borei has not been recovered by the PRCS.
Later in the night of the same day, a second EMT volunteer, Mohammad Al Abadleh (28 years old), was shot when he got off the ambulance in Khuzaaha despite the permission he received from the Israeli forces through the ICRC to leave the ambulance and treat the injured found in the place. Moreover, when his colleagues tried to treat him, they were targeted preventing them to help the injured volunteer. Al Abadleh was left to bleed till death.”
The PRCS condemns the Israeli targeting of its branch in Khan Younis today at noon, which consists of a hospital, clinics, other programs facilities, and management offices. As a result, a number of displaced civilians (women and children), who took shelter at the branch few days ago, sustained mild and severe injuries. Moreover, some of the branch’s units sustained severe damage.
The PRCS expresses its concerns about the intensifying targeting of its premises, teams and ambulances lately. This act is considered a war crime and those responsible for it should be accountable. This targeting wantonly disregards all conventions which provide protection for the medical mission and the displaced civilians, and stress the respect of the Red Crescent emblem, clearly displayed on the Khan Younis branch.
It is to be noted that the Israeli shelling have led to the destruction of PRCS Jabaliya branch and some parts of the PRCS Gaza branch earlier this week. In addition, the Israeli targeting of PRCS ambulances have led to the death of one PRCS’ EMT, Mohamad Al Bor’ii (24) and one PRCS’ volunteer, Mohamad Al Abadleh (28) and injuring 42 EMTs in the line of duty. Furthermore, seventeen PRCS’ ambulances were damaged.”