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  • ACRI

Fire and Emergency Services in East Jerusalem Neighborhoods Beyond the Separation Wall

© Jose Hernandez |

Ahmed Dola, age 34 from Kfar Aqab, suffocated to death after a fire broke out in his home. Mr. Dola called for his neighbors and then returned into the flames in order to save his wife and son. The Israeli Fire Services were called, but the fire truck was stopped at the Qalandia checkpoint and prevented from entering Kafr Aqab. Ahmed Dolas’s wife and son were saved, but Ahmed did not manage to get out in time and died in the fire.

This is not the first time that fire crews and emergency services called to Palestinian neighborhoods beyond the wall were not able to reach their destination, seemingly due to not being escorted by additional security forces. On 15.3.2021, we appealed to the Mayor of Jerusalem, Commander General of Central Israel, Commissioner of Fire and Rescue and Minister of Public Security, demanding the immediate establishment of a coordinating mechanism that would allow the immediate entry of fire, rescue, and other emergency services into the Jerusalem neighborhoods located beyond the Separation Wall, or alternatively to these services on the other side of the checkpoints in Qalandia and Shu’fat Camp so that they are able to respond immediately to life-threatening events.

In the appeal, Attorney Tal Hassin noted that the current reality in which fire trucks and rescue crews called to fire incidents are blocked at checkpoints due to the lack of coordination and are unable to reach their destination, or arriving there significantly late, is extremely unreasonable and represents a severe disdain for human life. She emphasized that Kfar Aqab, just like Shu’fat Camp and its nearby neighborhoods, are all part of the municipal area of Jerusaled, and are therefore under the responsibility of the Israeli government and the Municipality of Jerusalem.

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