Recently erected checkpoints in East Jerusalem have been holding up patients and staff on their way to several hospitals. “Currently, all of the hospitals within the East Jerusalem Hospital Network are experiencing challenges to their daily operations due to the placement of Israeli security checkpoints within East Jerusalem neighborhoods,” says a statement of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.
Walid Nammour, Chief Executive Officer of Augusta Victoria Hospital, delivered the statement at a network press conference today. Augusta Victoria, which is operated by The Lutheran World Federation, is one of the medical facilities affected. A checkpoint was recently been placed close to the hospital entrance.
Deep concern about well-being of patients
“The checkpoints compromise timely access to our facilities. Ambulances and staff have been delayed, negatively affecting our ability to care for and serve our community. This is aggressive and offensive to patients and their families, and escalates an already tense situation. We are deeply concerned about the well-being of our patients who are particularly vulnerable due to cancer and other medical conditions,” Nammour stated.
The statement also voices concern for hospital staff, some of whom must pass through multiple checkpoints on their way to and from work. Both Augusta Victoria and Makassed Islamic Charity Hospital have reported the forced entry of heavily armed Israeli military personnel into their facilities within the last 10 days. Other health facilities report injuries to emergency medical technicians, staff and ambulances.
“This behavior is particularly alarming and in violation of existing agreements between these hospitals and Israeli authorities as well as international humanitarian law,” the statement reads.
The East Jerusalem Hospital Network consists of six hospitals, which are the main providers of tertiary health care services unavailable in the West Bank and Gaza. The network has played a leading role in the development of the overall Palestinian health care system and the training of health care workers and specialists.
Augusta Victoria provides life-saving healthcare to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including specialized treatment offered at its cancer, diabetes and pediatric centers.