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Israeli settlers attack Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance in Hebron’s Old City
Ma’an News, Apr 12, 2009
A group of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance in the old city of Hebron Saturday afternoon, causing damage to the vehicle.
According to Abed Al-Haleem Al-Ja’afra, the Head of Ambulance and Emergency Services for the Red Crescent, the ambulance was moving a patient from the Hebron governmental hospital to her home on Ash-Shuhada Street when the attack occurred. The Israeli army had given permission for the ambulance to drive on Ash-Shuhada Street, which is normally closed to all Palestinian cars and traffic.
As the ambulance arrived to the Al- Qarantina area, the soldiers opened the checkpoint, allowing the vehicle into the area where it was then attacked by settlers who threw stones at the vehicle.
“The vehicle was ambushed, and the soldiers turned a blind eye to the incident, making no move to stop the settlers from throwing stones,” Al-Ja’afra said.
Being unable to move forward and take the patient safely to her home, the ambulance tried to back out of the street, but soldiers would not open the checkpoint for several minutes.
The patient was eventually returned to the emergency ward at Hebron governmental hospital, and awaits approval from Israeli authorities as to when she will safely be able to return home.
Life under attack in the Old City
The Israeli military checkpoints in Hebron, like the one at the entrance to Ash-Shuhada street, have made life impossible for local residents. Many have had to move to other areas of Hebron to ecape constant harassment from nearby Jewish settlers, the annoyance of having to walk through metal detectors on the way home, and having the street blocked off from any Palestinian vehicle traffic.
Residents say the area has the feel of a closed military zone.
“In the old city, we are living inside a cage,” one resident, Atif Al-Uweiwi, said.
School pupils in the old city also suffer from settler attacks as they are en route to and from school. Some pupils prefer to stay home for fear of the attacks.
“Our lives are like cats and dogs; when the settlers are absent, we go to school and we play outside. But, when they are there, we are stay indoors or use back alleys to get where we need to go,” said Haytham Ar-Rajabi, a school boy in the area.
He adds, “In the old city we live as if we were not human beings. Where are the rights which humanitarian organizations claim we have?”
World Volunteers Organization for Peace reported last week that Israeli soldiers had installed yet another checkpoint near the Ibrahimi Mosque, for “security purposes.”
According to Iyad Khamasiyya, spokesperson of the group, “settlers assault school pupils in the middle of the day, especially those who study at the Ibrahimi elementary school located in the centre of Hebron.”