Israeli Checkpoints Block Palestinian Access to Hospitals in East Jerusalem

Soaring Casualties in Crackdown, But Patients, Doctors Struggle to Get to Hospitals

A massive Israeli crackdown on Palestinian unrest, particularly in occupied East Jerusalem, has left hundreds of people wounded, and ever-growing restrictions of movement on the Arab population there and elsewhere. Either situation would be problematic, but combined the situation is getting much, much worse.

This huge influx of new patients threatens to overwhelm hospitals which are suddenly surrounded with checkpoints, and which Israeli security forces are heavily restricting access to. Even the doctors and other staff at these hospitals are struggling to get to work.

For patients, in many cases, it’s nearly impossible, with people who used to live less than 10 minutes from the hospital finding waits of an hour or more just to get around a military checkpoint, and report Israeli troops firing live rounds at them as they try to get wounded relatives to receive care.

Israeli police downplayed the complaints, saying ambulances are allowed through the checkpoints and the complaints about patients dying, waiting in civilian cars to get through checkpoints were “far-fetched.” At the same time, the police conceded even they aren’t sure how many checkpoints they’ve set up at this point, but insisted the situation was fine.

Neighborhoods of tens of thousands of civilians are being effectively sealed off by the checkpoints, however, and freedom of movement is severely curtailed for the average Palestinian, even as Israeli officials call for more restrictions in the name of security.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.