Question of Palestine home
UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
24 September 2003
Press Release No. J/06/2003
24 September, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
URWA Protests Israeli Action in Qalqilya Hospital
Amman – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has protested to the Israeli military at a serious breach of both the United Nations’ immunities and international humanitarian law taking place at its hospital in Qalqilya in the West Bank.
On Wednesday, 24 September, Israeli troops entered the UN-run hospital and made the medical staff leave their patients and duties and lie on the floor of the hospital. Israeli soldiers searched the hospital room by room and doors were kicked in by the troops, some locked doors were shot open. A number of windows were broken. The troops prevented the hospital director and other staff from using their telephones to contact UNRWA’s field headquarters.
UNRWA has complained to the Israeli authorities at this serious disruption to its medical operations and contrary to the international conventions governing the treatment of the United Nations. It is also a complete breach of the Geneva Convention and its protocols, which accord hospitals special protection during conflicts. Hospitals may not be targets of military operations under the Convention, and the excuse of ‘military necessity’ is specifically ruled out.
UNRWA’s medical staff were unable to care for their patients in the hospital. The intrusion of the soldiers into all areas of the hospital, including the surgical theatre, carried the serious risk of cross-contamination of sterile areas. It is likely that key areas of the hospital will be out of operation until they can be rendered sterile.