Palestine Red Crescent Society

Palestine Red Crescent Society

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The Palestine Red Crescent Society was founded in 1968, by Fathi Arafat
Fathi Arafat
Fathi Arafat , born in Cairo, was a Palestinian physician and a founder and long-term chairman of the Palestine Red Crescent Society. He studied medicine at Cairo University from 1950 until 1957 and thereafter practiced as a pediatrician in Cairo, Kuwait and Jordan...

, Yassar Arafat's brother. It is a humanitarian organization that part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

. It provides hospitals, emergency medicine and ambulance services, and primary health care centers in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. Its headquarters is based in Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

, near Jerusalem. They are observer memebrs of the International Falcon Movement - Socialist Education International

The PRCS was officially recognized by the ICRC
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 and IFRC
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is a humanitarian institution that is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement along with the ICRC and 186 distinct National Societies...

 in June 2006, in a move that also recognized the Israeli Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Star of David"...

 and the politically-neutral Red Crystal symbol.

Ambulance services

The PRCS provides the lion's share of ambulance
An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

 services as providing emergency medical and relief services to Palestinians as mandated in 1996 by then PLO leader Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

. Ambulance services are provided by 41 stations and substations, 22 mobile field posts, 122 ambulances, 346 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and over 500 volunteers.

1996 also saw the foundation of the Emergency Medical Institute, which trains staff and EMTs in accordance with international standards. Furthermore, the PRCS has been instrumental in the establishment of the national emergency number (101).

Special problems

Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has created some special issues for service delivery:

According to Israeli sources, there have been numerous incidents in which Palestinian ambulances have been found transporting bombs, missiles, or terrorists disguised as patients. As such, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has a policy of stopping to inspect all Palestinian ambulances at roadblocks, regardless of the seriousness of the patient's condition.

According to the PRCS, Israeli Defence Force personnel on the ground and in aircraft have deliberately targeted Palestinian ambulances, and prevented or impeded them from carrying out their duties in violation of international humanitarian law. In 2003, for example, the PRCS reported that seven staff members were injured and 12 ambulances were damaged in attacks by Israeli settlers and the IDF
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

, and PRCS ambulances were denied or delayed access to areas on 584 different occasions.

During the 2008–2009 Gaza War, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

rejected charges by Israel that Hamas had systematically used medical facilities, vehicles and uniforms as a cover, stating that no evidence had been provided proving such actions. Further, Magen David Adom's submission to UN Mission investigating the war stated that, "there was no use of PRCS ambulances for the transport of weapons or ammunition ... [and] there was no misuse of the emblem by PRCS."

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