Brit student debuts Palestinian film

A final year medical student from Dundee University is making her film debut at the prestigious Raindance film festival in London.

    An ambulance is checked by Israeli soldiers near Nablus

    Saliyha Ahsan spent two months in the Palestinian cities of Ram Allah and Nablus filming her documentary Article 17, focusing on the work of Palestinian paramedics.

    The title of the film refers to the fourth Geneva Convention and the universal right that all civilians have under international law to access healthcare in a conflict zone.

    Ahsan, a medical student, travelled to the West Bank in July 2002 to offer medical assistance to Palestinians in need and to expose the conditions that medics are forced to work in whilst under occupation.

    ''As a trainee doctor, I find it inconceivable that paramedics and ambulances should be blocked from treating patients. In my country if an ambulance is blocked at a traffic light, it's all over the newspapers the next day,'' she said.

    Ahsan spent two months working with paramedics from the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC) filming with a small digital film camera.


    She filmed paramedics trying to negotiate with soldiers to allow ambulances through so that patients could be treated.

    ''Some days the soldiers would be reasonable and allow the ambulances to go about their business, other days they would be aggressive and abusive.

    "It is not uncommon for ambulance drivers to have to sit in the heat for hours, waiting for permission to pass through a checkpoint.''


    Despite the Israeli occupation force insisting that they do not deliberately target healthcare workers, the evidence suggests otherwise.

    The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the main ambulance centre in Palestine, keeps records of violence and harassment carried out by soldiers on their staff.

    According to the PRCS, 80 of their medical personnel have been detained by the Israeli army while on duty since March 2002.

    One paramedic, Muhammad Husni Ahmad Zaydan, from Jenin is still being held by the occupation forces. It is not known why he is being held and if he will be charged with any offence.

    Film festival

    Ahsan's film will be shown this Saturday in London as part of the prestigious Raindance film festival, which showcases independent films and documentaries.

    Previous films that have been shown at the festival include the Blair Witch Project and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, both films that went on to gain massive commercial success.

    Ahsan's film was made on a shoestring budget of £600. The student was so broke that she had to borrow £20 from her mother to enter the film for the festival.

    ''I am so amazed that this has happened, I'm happy that this film is being shown in London so people find out what's really going on in Palestine, and how doctors and patients are often treated with aggression and violence by occupation forces'' she said.

    The film will be screened on 4 November which marks the 86th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, when the British handed over the mandate to control Palestine to Zionist leaders.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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