The only vehicle available to medics, who provide assistance to nearly 1,500 Palestinians living inside the so-called Israeli military firing zone in the West Bank has been confiscated by Israeli authorities on January 2, reported the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.
The same vehicle, which provides urgent medical services to the residents of Masafer Yatta, a small village located to the South of Hebron (Al-Khalil), has already been confiscated last February.
The Palestinian medical team, consisting of a doctor and a nurse, in addition to the driver, reaches the area on a regular basis, as it is “the only vehicle available for providing medical services to these communities,” according to the newspaper.
A women receives a medical consultation at a mobile clinic in Area C of the West Bank. These @UNFPA /PMRS mobile services, funded by @UNCERF, make access possible in areas where medical care is scarce, or hard to reach. pic.twitter.com/xbJabALAgl
— UNFPA Palestine (@UNFPAPALESTINE) August 22, 2019
On Thursday, the Palestinian medical team was ordered by the Israeli Civil Administration that they are banned from conducting their regular visits unless they obtain a permit from the Israeli army to enter the “firing zone”.
According to the Office for the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Palestine, “approximately 18% of the West Bank has been designated as a closed military zone for training, or firing zone”, and almost 5,000 Palestinians live in these communities.
On 13 August, the Israeli authorities seized a four-by-four vehicle serving a mobile health clinic in the Masafer Yatta area in southern Hebron, forcing residents to travel longer distances to access primary health care services.
— ijoubran (@ijoubran) August 31, 2018
This dates back to the 1970s when Israel arbitrarily declared that large areas of the West Bank were “firing zones”, or closed military areas, formally prohibiting any Palestinian presence in those areas without the consent of the Israeli military, which is rarely granted.
“These declarations,” added the UN Office, “have had a serious humanitarian impact on Palestinian civilians and dramatically reduced the land available to them for residential and livelihood uses”.
RT btselem "Yesterday Israeli military dug deep trenches to prevent access to Palestinian communities in Masafer Yatta. For over a month the military has been curtailing residents' movement. They have been suffering incessant harassment by Israel for… pic.twitter.com/3fxYV9Cg6x"
— Richard Hardigan (@RichardHardigan) December 27, 2017
Masafer Yatta, which is entirely isolated due to Israeli restrictions, has relied on the regular visits by the Palestinian medics before they were barred from entering the area.
Last February, the medics’ vehicle was confiscated by the Israeli military, to be returned six months later, after Palestinians were forced to pay 3,000 shekels (approximately $865) to get it back.
(The Palestine Chronicle)