On visit to East Jerusalem UN officials call for respect of health

“Actions that undermine the ability of health workers to provide care to those in need are violations of international law. The conduct by the Israeli security forces during several entries into Makassed hospital this past week is unacceptable and must not be repeated,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper. Yesterday, Mr. Piper – who is also Deputy UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process – and senior officials from a number of UN agencies visited the hospital, which armed police forcibly entered on 27 and 28 October to reportedly obtain medical files and security camera footage relating to a child who had been treated there and is currently in Israeli custody.A news release issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) added that on 29 October, Israeli security forces fired tear gas canisters and other projectiles inside the hospital premises when medical staff were holding a peaceful protest against the recent events. The search operations disrupted health services and caused panic among patients and medical staff.In addition, medical services are being impeded by checkpoints recently established near Augusta Victoria Hospital, following the escalation in violence in East Jerusalem. “These obstacles have delayed access of patients and staff, as well as medical referrals between Augusta Victoria and Makassed hospitals,” the news release stated.“The right to health is a fundamental human right which Israel must respect and protect at all times,” stated Mr. Piper, who was accompanied by officials from OCHA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). read more