Fighting for Equal Access to Emergency Services

1 April 2020

Three NIF grantees have demanded that Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s emergency medical response service, provide ambulance and other services to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods who are disconnected from the city by the separation barrier.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI), and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual are calling on the Ministry of Health and the CEO of MDA demanding that MDA teams be immediately instructed to enter the East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the separation wall to provide assistance as required and particularly in suspected cases of COVID-19 infection.

Eight Palestinian neighborhoods within the Jerusalem Municipality, with more than 100,000 residents, are separated from the rest of the city by the separation barrier. The current practice is for MDA teams to meet those needing emergency medical treatment at either the Kalandia or Shuafat checkpoints. This requires the sick to make their way to the checkpoint independently or using Red Crescent ambulances.

In a joint statement, ACRI, PHRI, and HaMoked said, “This practice is unacceptable in every respect and constitutes a blatant violation, among other things, of the National Health Insurance Law, which establishes that Israeli residents are entitled to be transported to hospitals and clinics for medical treatment – and this is one of the duties of the MDA. The MDA also has the special duty of providing first aid and disaster services – a disaster such as the current coronavirus pandemic.”