11 Jan 2009
In an interim decision on a High Court of Justice (HJC) court petition submitted by six Israeli human rights organizations - Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR), Adalah, Yesh din, Gisha, The public committee against torture in Israel and Association for civil rights in Israel (ACRI) - demanding the State allow for the immediate evacuation of all stranded wounded in Gaza, High Court Justices Dorit Beinish, Elyakim Rubinstein and Asher Dan Grunis granted the State four days to respond to the issue, after which a new date for a hearing will be set.
PHR Israel: “Four more days will cost more lives, if continued on same level, one Palestinian will be killed every half an hour; one will be wounded every six minutes. (approx. statistics updated to Friday 15:00 local time). We call for an immediate ceasefire to allow the evacuation and treatment of all stranded and wounded in order to stop the loss of lives.”
Since the ground offensive began in Gaza, ambulances have been repeatedly prevented access to the wounded by the Israeli military. Testimony collected by PHR and provided by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS)/ International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports of deaths of stranded wounded in the absence of medical care. (See below for testimonies).
Recent testimonies of stranded wounded in Gaza:
On the 7th of January, ICRC/PRCS ambulances entered the Al Samouni family area, south of Gaza city, after four days' delay. The PRCS medical teams witnessed 22 deaths including 6 children and 7 women, in one of the houses. 14 injured people were still alive and were transported to hospital.
PRCS volunteer: "We faced difficulties in reaching the casualties. We had to walk for more than two kilometers to reach Al Samouni area. …. Deaths are every where in the streets…"
ICRC teams said, in a rare public statement, that they had found "four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses. In another house, the ICRC/PRCS rescue team found 15 other survivors of this attack including several wounded. In yet another house, they found an additional three corpses… "
Today, two injured teenagers from the Al Aedi family were obliged to walk 3 kilometers on foot to an ambulance after six days' delay in evacuation. Four other injured members of the family – two children and two 80-year-old women – are still waiting for evacuation. (Testimony received by PHR)
Areas that have been completely cut off from medical access according to PRCS: Al Sifa, Al Zaytoon, Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Al Kashef and Al Rayyes mounts, Ezbet Abed Rabbo and the Bedouins area west of Erez.