Geneva Convention And Medical Care
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
20 June 2005
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, in response to the reports in the media that a patient used her travel permit which was issued to her for medical reasons, in order to attempt to attack an Israeli hospital, in a place full of people, calls upon the Palestinian society and its leaders to strongly condemn the use of patients for violent purposes.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel wishes to emphasize: the obligation that “the wounded and sick, as well as the infirm, and expectant mothers, shall be the object of particular protection and respect” (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 16) is applicable to both sides of the conflict, as well as the obligation that “civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict” (Article 18). The Palestinian society is also responsible to make certain that patients are kept out of the conflict, and that their distress not be abused by various factors in the society.
In the past Israel has sealed the passage points (Erez and Rafah) for patients for extended times, as part of what was described as security measures. Patients who needed crucial treatments outside of the Gaza Strip were seriously harmed by these closures and some even died as a result. A sweeping hardening of the rules and regulations on all patients is a collective punishment which endangers the lives of many and is not allowed. So to, taking advantage of the ill for the purpose of committing attacks is inherently wrong and we call upon the Palestinian society and its leaders to strongly condemn such actions.
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has and will continue to work against the occupation. The violations of the Palestinians’ human rights, and specifically the right to health, in the occupied territories are a direct result of this violent occupation. However, as long as the violence continues each side to the conflict must observe the basic principles specified in international conventions and law. The protection of the ill, medical professionals, ambulances and hospitals is one of the most important of these principles.