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Israeli army prevents human rights lawyers access to Jenin hospital
17 April 2002
Last night, at 7 o'clock, a delegation of Amnesty International and Lawyers without Borders, received a notification from lawyers at LAW and Adalah, that they would be granted access to Jenin hospital, with access to the rest of the refugee camp and other "closed military zones" in other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories still to be confirmed. However, by that time, it was already dark outside. Israeli tanks were patrolling the area, enforcing the military curfew. It was too dangerous for the delegates to move at that stage.
This morning, at 7.30, the delegation arrived at Jenin hospital. After half an hour, only the forensic expert, Derrick Pounder, was allowed access to the hospital. Israeli soldiers refused access to the other three human rights lawyers. The soldier refused to give his name and identification and refused to give the name and identification of his commanding officer, who instructed the soldier to refuse entry for the three delegates. Meanwhile the attorney, who acts on behalf of Amnesty International and Lawyers without Borders, has been in contact with the legal advisor of the Israeli army. However, as at 9 o'clock this morning, there is still no confirmation whether they will be allowed entry.
During the time, the delegation has been waiting, they have witnessed Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint obstructing access for Palestinian Red Crescent Society and United Nations ambulances to Jenin hospital. They witnessed a pregnant woman in labor being ordered to step out the ambulance and walk. After intervention by the human rights lawyers, the Israeli soldiers allowed her to be moved on a stretcher. After some delay, also her husband was allowed to pass.
LAW expresses its surprise that access for human rights lawyers has been denied to Jenin hospital, when it is obvious there is no security reason, as one of the delegates, forensic expert Dernot for any security purposes as one of the delegates, a forensic expert Derrick Pounder was allowed entry.
LAW believes that it is imperative that human rights lawyers and humanitarian agencies, journalists and independent monitors are allowed access and to investigate and record what has happened in Jenin refugee camp.