Israeli Army Denies Palestinian Claims Over Raid at Ramallah Hospital

Military says forces did not enter Ramallah hospital but acknowledges using crowd-dispersal measures against stone throwers nearby

IDF soldiers during a nighttime raid in the West Bank (illustrative).
IDF Spokesperson

Israeli army troops carried out military operations in the vicinity of the government hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah early on Thursday.

The Palestinian Health Ministry reported that Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets and that patients suffered from smoke inhalation and tear gas as a result of smoke and tear gas grenades. The army denied that Israeli troops entering the hospital building or that they were violent toward patients.

For its part, the Israel Defense Forces said after soldiers were operating near the hospital, stones were thrown at them from the hospital compound and they responded by firing rubber bullets and stun and gas grenades at the stone throwers.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said that Israeli force used smoke grenades against the medical staff and patients. Although the Israeli army denied its troops entering the hospital, the director of the hospital, Dr. Ahmed al-Bitawi, said the soldiers remained on the hospital grounds for over an hour. He said the soldiers used violence against the patients and those accompanying them, adding that some of the children who are patients at the hospital suffered injury from smoke that they inhaled and from tear gas. The Palestinians confirmed that no arrests were made.

The IDF Spokesman's Office said in response for this article: "There is no truth to the false claim in the article that troops used violence against the patients, as the troops did not enter the hospital, instead remaining outside. The incident will be examined."

The IDF Spokesman added: "Early in the morning, IDF forces carried out activity adjacent to the hospital in the Kadura refugee camp in Ramallah. In the course of their withdrawal from the camp, stones were thrown at the force from the hospital complex. The force responded with crowd dispersal measures – firing rubber [bullets], stun grenades and gas grenades. After dispersing the stone throwers, the force left the camp."

Palestinian Health Minister Jawad Awwad convened a news conference Thursday over the incident and accused Israel of blatantly violating international law. Dozens of patients were put at risk as a result of the Israeli troops' use of gas and smoke grenades in addition to rubber bullets, he claimed.

About a year-and-a-half ago, an IDF force raided the Al-Ahli hospital in the West Bank city of Hebron to arrest a suspect in a stabbing attack. The Palestinians claimed that in the Israeli forces included soldiers disguised as Arabs purportedly accompanying a woman who was pretending to be about to give birth. In the ensuing confrontation a cousin of the suspect was shot to death.