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Balata: Medical Workers Under Attack

Medical Workers Under Attack - 16 Shot in Balata Refugee Camp

>From early morning until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday Balata refugee cap was held under seige by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Jeeps and hummers stationed at the entrances to the camps shot rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition at groups of children in the streets. A mosque filled with men, women and children at prayer was gassed with a particularly strong version of tear gas, causing many people to require hospitalization. Throughout the day 16 people were shot, including one international activist and three medical volunteers.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. two bursts of live ammunition were shot into the streets. The shots came from an occupied house at the edge of the camp and a jeep stationed near the entrance. Four people were shot initially. An ambulance and medical workers on foot approached the scene to provide medical care to the civilians. Immediately three medical workers were shot. They were clearly visible in the middle of the street as medical workers and were targetted directly.

After loading the seven injured into the ambulance the driver attempted to transport the injured to the hospital. The jeep and another hummer raced to the ambulance, blocking the driver from moving in any direction. Soldiers threatened the drivers, shooting and screaming through a megaphone. Internationals stood between the jeeps and the ambulance to provide protection. For five minutes the ambulance attempted to leave the scene, each time blocked by soldiers.

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The driver was eventually able to move down the street towards the hospital. As it drove away a hummer chased it down the street. The hummer attempted to run the ambulance off of the road, eventually crashing into the side of the ambulance. After the crash the driver stopped the ambulance and soldiers forcefully pulled the medical workers out of the ambulance and threw them up against a concrete wall. The soldiers threatened the workers, pointing guns in their faces and confiscating the Palestinian's I.D.'s.

Attacking medical workers is illegal by international law as clearly stated in the 4th Geneva Convention. Three medical volunteers were shot: a sixteen year-old woman was shot in the leg with live ammunition, causing a fracture in her ankle; a 33 year-old man was also shot in the leg, causing permanent damage to the muscles in his thigh; and a 17 year- old woman volunteer was shot through the hand. All are still in the hospital at the time of writing.

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