Iraqi doctors say they have been harassed, beaten, threatened and sometimes even attacked by US and US-backed Iraqi forces during recent military adventures in al-Qa’im and Haditha.
Their testimony bears witness to a horrific standard operating procedure of collective punishment against the Iraqi people.
Interference by the US military and outright hostility towards medical workers in Iraq appears to have become the norm.
This intrusion most often takes the form of soldiers entering hospitals to interrogate or detain alleged resistance fighters.
But during major assaults by US forces—such as the levelling of the city of Fallujah last November—it becomes sharper and more deadly.
US forces entered Fallujah General Hospital, the city’s only healthcare facility for trauma victims, in November shortly after razing the nearby Nazzal Emergency Hospital to the ground.
There they detained employees and patients alike. Water and electricity supplies were cut off, ambulances confiscated, and surgeons—without exception—kept out of the besieged city, according to medics on the scene.
The US military occupied Fallujah General Hospital throughout the massacre of the city. Ambulances were deliberately targeted by US forces.
Burhan Fasa’a, a cameraman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, witnessed the first eight days of the fighting.
“I entered Fallujah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital,” he said during an interview in Baghdad. “There were American snipers on top of the hospital who were shooting everyone in sight.”
The Iraqi Red Crescent had to wait a full week before being permitted to dispatch three ambulances into the city.
Similar testimony emerged from hospitals in other cities during the same period. In Amiriyat al-Fallujah, a village some ten kilometres east of Fallujah, doctors say the main hospital was raided twice by US soldiers and members of the Iraqi National Guard.
“The first time was 29 November at 5.40am, and the second time was the following day,” said one doctor at the hospital, who did not want to give his real name for fear of US reprisals.
A second doctor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said that all of the doors of the clinics inside the same hospital were kicked in.
“The Americans have snipers all along the road between here and Fallujah,” he added. “They shoot our ambulances if they try to go to Fallujah.”
Elsewhere, Dahr Jamail has comiled a lengthy report on the targetting of hospitals and ambulances in occupied Iraq. Apparently, Jamail laboured under the auspices of the World Tribunal on Iraq when he wrote this. In it, he describes an enormous waste of money for healthcare being drained by occupation corruption and crimes; filth in hospitals due to a lack of cleaners; water and electricity cut-offs hampering treatment; the deliberate military targeting of hospitals and ambulances; the straining of hospital staff, equipment and resources due to a lack of provision and unusually high occupancy; and a 'brain drain' as those doctors who can, escape to Europe or America.
Just another bloody, grimy pocket of reality under the occupation.