The police on Monday raided an event marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, fulfilling an order signed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who said the event was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority.
According to the Palestinian participants, the policemen resorted to force when dispersing the event and held some of the participants for questioning. Much shouting ensued, participants said.
Al-Makassed Hospital in the Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tor is the biggest of the clinics in East Jerusalem. It is privately owned but is recognized by the Israeli Health Ministry.
Dozens of people attended the event Monday, including senior people from the PA, such as the governor of the Jerusalem district Adnan Gheith and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Adnan al-Husayni.
An order delivered to the organizers stated that the event was prohibited by law because of its affiliation with the PA.
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Erdan’s order stated, “The event that was supposed to take place with the sponsorship of the Palestinian Authority was supposed to include Palestinian sovereign symbols such as: playing the Palestinian national anthem, political speeches on behalf of the PA and participation of Palestinian officials. … Minister Erdan’s order gives the direction not to hold the activity in East Jerusalem [because of laws that] forbid the Palestinian Authority to open or operate a representation, to hold an assembly or activity within the State of Israel …”
Erdan stated that the PA continues to try to impair Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem and weaken it by replacing it with institutions operating and funded by the Palestinians. “I won’t allow it, and will continue to act vigorously to prevent any violation of Israeli sovereignty in all parts of our capital, Jerusalem.”
In recent years the police have routinely dispersed events suspected of having some affiliation with the PA. Among the events broken up were literary conventions, press conferences and even a children’s festival.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel stated that the Public Security Ministry was making belligerent use of its powers and violating the special, protected status of the hospitals as part of a political battle against the PA. One has to wonder, the organization asked, if the police would have broken up a similar event at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, with the participation of a political figure such as the health minister. “The discrimination against Palestinian hospitals has to stop and the special status of medical institutions, Palestinian or Israeli, has to be preserved.”
The organization also highlighted the silence of the Israeli Health Ministry, which, it said, it would have expected to speak out and take action against any violation of the hospital’s neutrality.
Ashrat Maimon, policy development manager at the NGO Ir Amim, which defends Palestinian rights in Jerusalem, said, “The cynical horror shown by the public security minister mere days before the primary ... point up the disgraceful use of violence against a community whose entire sin was to celebrate its mission and activity for its people.”