Middle East conflict: Call for recognition of right to medical care and for medical staff to not be targeted
12 March 2002
Paris - Claude Moncorgé, President of Médecins du Monde and Jean-Hervé Bradol, President of Médecins Sans Frontières met with the Israeli ambassador to France on March 12th. The representatives of the aforementioned organizations wanted to officially restate the fundamental right of civilian populations to medical care as well as that of health care professionals to access the wounded and not be made the targets of military action. Furthermore, factions engaged in warfare should make a firm commitment to refrain from using the vehicles, medical structures and emblems of humanitarian organizations for military purposes. The reminder of these principles is all the more urgent given the events of the last few days. Palestinian medical personnel have increasingly been the targets of attacks, which continue to increase, just as some hospitals have been the targets of attacks by the Israeli army. Given these circumstances medical personnel are continuously hindered in their attempts to reach the wounded and provide care. During the course of the last seven days, dozens of members of healthcare professions have been killed while on duty and many others have been wounded. The intensification of the conflict does not justify the failure to comply with International Humanitarian Law aimed specifically at protecting the wounded and medical personnel during armed conflicts. Oncce again last night, and for several hours, ambulances in the Gaza Strip were not allowed to gain access to the wounded. As of this morning the hospital in Ram Allah has been surrounded by the Israeli army - ambulances cannot leave or enter the facility. Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières and Handicap International have jointly reminded His Excellency the Israeli Ambassador to France of the aforementioned principles and have asked that this message be communicated to Israeli authorities.