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23.3.2020

Israeli human rights organizations to the Health Ministry and Magen David Adom: immediately resume provision of emergency medical services in the Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Separation Wall; it is the only way to minimize the threat of massive community infections in these densely populated areas of the city

On March 23, 2020, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, HaMoked and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel wrote to the Ministry of Health and the national emergency medical and ambulance service Magen David Adom (MDA), to demand that the MDA teams be immediately instructed to enter the East Jerusalem neighborhoods lying beyond the Separation Wall to provide assistance as required and particularly in suspected cases of corona infection. This, contrary to the routine practice whereby MDA teams do not enter the neighborhoods and only meet those who require assistance at the Kalandia-Atarot checkpoint or the checkpoint near Shufat refugee camp – after the latter reach the meeting point via the Red Crescent emergency medical service or independently. This practice is unacceptable in every respect and constitutes a blatant violation, among other things, of the National Health Insurance Law, which establishes that Israeli residents are entitled to be transported to Hospitals and HMOs for medical treatment – and this is one of the duties of the MDA. The MDA also has the special duty of providing first aid and disaster services – a disaster such as the current corona pandemic.

MDA teams have received special training in evacuating anyone suspected of being infected or ill with the virus. They are equipped with special protective suits and masks and follow professional guidelines to best minimize the risk of exposure to the virus. Private initiatives have none of these protections, but for obvious reasons, improvised preparation are already underway in the Shufat Refugee Camp - following media reports that Israel intends to impose a closure to prevent Jerusalemites living in these neighborhoods from reaching the rest of the city. Such improvised services are likely to result in higher levels of contamination in the neighborhoods beyond the Separation Wall – in which live over 100,000 people in conditions of extreme overcrowding.

It is therefore clear that not providing all MDA services at the current time is extremely unreasonable. The organizations stressed in conclusion that the MDA must now resume full operation also in the Jerusalem areas beyond the Separation Wall.

In response to HaMoked’s letter condemning the reported plan of the Prime Minister’s Office to impose a closure on these neighborhoods, the Ministry of Justice stated on March 22, 2020, that no such decision had been made.
mail@hamoked.org.il (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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