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URGENT: Nablus Closed to Emergency Medical Cases

URGENT: Nablus Closed to Emergency Medical Cases

The Israeli army has closed down Nablus and patients can no longer receive emergency medical care.

From dozens of complaints received today by PHR-Israel, we have learned that since 6:30 this morning, 2 November 2003, the Palestinian city of Nablus has been hermetically sealed off by the Israeli Army in both directions. According to the army, a "security problem" is the reason behind the lockdown, which is also blocking off ambulances and humanitarian cases. One woman from a nearby village, who is nine months pregnant and felt strong pains, was forced to wait for 4 hours at a checkpoint, and was only allowed through after "Machsom Watch" activists intervened.

Hundreds of thousands of people living in nearby villages and towns require the medical services available in the main medical centers of Nablus. For months now, patients from these areas have been unable to obtain needed medical care, such as preventative medicine and examinations. Today, even urgent cases are being locked out.

It is clear that this lockdown is devastating and will have severe implications on health and human rights, and in some cases already has. Patients of the Palestinian Medical Relief (UPMRC) were turned back. Soldiers prevented passage of other ambulances, while threatening the staff and patients with their rifles. PHR-Israel continues to learn of new cases as this lockdown persists.

These actions are against the declared official policy of Israel itself, and are certainly against the international humanitarian law.

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PHR-Israel firmly believes that these actions are unacceptable and calls upon the Israeli army to preserve human dignity and end this siege on Nablus.

More on freedom of movement: Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) is a non-partisan, non-profit organization founded in 1988 and currently comprising some 800 members, with the aim of striving to promote medical human rights in Israel and in the territories under Israel's effective control. The basic values of PHR-Israel are human dignity, protection of bodily and mental integrity, and promotion of the right to health and medical care.

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