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Red Crescent declares 'state of emergency' after attacks on staff

Oct. 4, 2015 5:02 P.M. (Updated: March 21, 2016 5:10 P.M.)
(Palestine Red Crescent Society)
By: Killian Redden

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestine Red Crescent Society on Sunday declared a state of emergency across the occupied Palestinian territory following an upsurge in violence by Israeli soldiers and settlers, including 14 attacks on the society's ambulances in just three days.

The society said in a statement that it was declaring a level 3 state of emergency and putting all its staff, teams and volunteers on standby.

The society decried Israeli violations of international humanitarian law, saying that in a 72-hour period, it had faced 14 attacks against its staff and vehicles "in a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render."

Most recently, the statement said that Israeli soldiers attacked one of the society's ambulances while tending to injured Palestinians during clashes in front of al-Quds University's Abu Dis campus earlier Sunday.

Two days earlier, the statement said that Israeli forces attacked an ambulance in al-Issawiya village in occupied East Jerusalem, before they "proceeded to arrest an injured Palestinian from inside the ambulance."

Also on Friday, the windshield of another ambulance was smashed by settlers in Burin village in Nablus, preventing it from "discharging its humanitarian duty."

The society said that on Saturday, five paramedics "were beaten up by soldiers in Jerusalem," while Israeli forces also attacked an ambulance crew with batons in Jerusalem's Old City.

The statement said Israeli soldiers also "severely beat another ambulance crew in Jabal Al Taweel (Al-Bireh), wounding two paramedics," afterward detaining a wounded Palestinian from the ambulance.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, which is a full member of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, said that the incidents were "a blatant violation" of international humanitarian law.

The society called on the international community, including the UN General Assembly and Security Council, to "shoulder their responsibilities by taking the necessary steps to make Israeli occupation authorities comply" with international law.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society was founded in 1968, to cater to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Following the 1993 Oslo Accord, the newly established Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health mandated the society to provide an ambulance service to the Palestinian population.

Recent days have seen a surge of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory.

Tensions had been steadily mounting in recent weeks due to Israeli restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem.

A string of deadly attacks on Israelis, including a shooting that left two settlers dead in the West Bank on Thursday, and a stabbing in Jerusalem that claimed two Israelis' lives on Saturday, prompted further clashes.

Dozens of Palestinians have been reported injured in recent days, including many shot with live rounds.
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