PHM calls for international community to stand against targeting of health workers in Palestine

PHM-USA strongly condemns the US government’s massive support of the Israeli occupation forces in Palestine. Without such support, the lives of thousands of Palestinian children, women, and men could have been saved and the devastating amount of injuries, disabilities, and psychological trauma could have been prevented.

We join with the PHM global movement in:

demanding that bodies and organizations of the United Nations take the necessary actions to provide protection to civilians and health workers through pressuring  the Israeli government to comply with the resolution 2286 adopted by the Security Council in 2016 and to put an end to the impunity for officials in the occupation’s government and the army, and to ensure holding them accountable;

reiterating PHM’s call for the international community and humanitarian organizations to intervene immediately in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to lift the 11-year long blockade of the Gaza Strip which threatens a humanitarian and health disaster;

demanding that international organizations and bodies of the United Nations conduct an independent investigation about the gross violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and that they hold the occupation accountable for the abuses against civilians and health personnel and humanitarian workers.

The rights of Palestinians living under occupation, including those living under siege, must be protected, respected and strengthened in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the access to health care as an essential component of the right to health. If the patients are unable to physically reach health care centers, other aspects such as quality of treatment and availability become meaningless.

Read the full statement from PHM below.


PHM Statement against targeting of health workers in Palestine by Israeli occupation forces

Israeli Occupation Forces continue to target civilians and health workers in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Introduction:

The occupation’s structuring and segregation is the most destructive tool used against the health of the Palestinian people, which makes it impossible to achieve good health and well-being. Because of the occupation and its colonial policies, the health determinants composed of the social, economic and political structures for the Palestinian people are affected. The Israeli occupation regime is inherently discriminatory against Palestinians, and is linked to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which has been ongoing for more than 52 years. The violations of human rights afflicted by the occupation are systematic towards the Palestinians including collective punishment, routine use of excessive and lethal force, administrative and prolonged detention of hundreds without charges or trials. It also supports the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank that are in violation of international human rights law. In December 2016, the Security Council adopted a resolution, with the United States abstaining, that the settlements have no “legal legitimacy” are a ” flagrant violation” of international law and are a “major obstacle” to peace in the occupied Palestinian territory [1]. Confiscating Palestinian land imposes burdens on the Palestinians, thus limiting their access to basic services and is almost impossible for them to access health without risking their lives. In addition, the occupation authorities imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip turning it into a large prison for almost 2 million Palestinians for more than 11 years.

The rights of Palestinians living under occupation, including those living under siege, must be protected, respected and strengthened in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the access to health care as an essential component of the right to health. If the patients are unable to physically reach health care centers, other aspects such as quality of treatment and availability become meaningless.

Grave violations of human rights and violations of the right to health:

In 2018, the occupation forces killed 307 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 263 in the Gaza Strip and 49 in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Moreover, there were 8410 wounded, including 7100 in the Gaza Strip, and 5761 detainees in Israeli prisons. [2] Since the start of the Great Return March in the Gaza Strip on 30 March 2018, Palestinians have been demonstrating along the security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip weekly demanding to lift the siege and calling for their right to return to their homes in which they were displaced from in 1948. The occupation authorities killed 220 Palestinian peaceful demonstrators, including 34 children, 2 women, 2 journalists, 8 disabled persons and 3 health workers. Moreover, 95,711 Palestinians were injured, including 3,722 children and 319 journalists. From the injured, 543 of them are in critical danger, 136 amputations, including 122 in the lower limbs and 14 upper limbs, including 25 children [3].

The World Health Organization (WHO) report on the right to health in Palestine states that 12% of Palestinian patients are denied access to East Jerusalem hospitals [4]. In addition to calling 596 patients to security interviews as a precondition for obtaining travel permits for treatment abroad [5].

Attacks on health workers and the health sector:

The health sector is exposed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to violations because of continuing the attacks, some of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The occupation authorities killed the medic Mousa Jaber Abu Hassanein, 36, from Gaza in April 2018, and in June 2018, the volunteer Razan Al – Najjar, 21, from Khuza’a in the southern Gaza Strip was targeted and killed. In March 2019 the volunteer Sajid Mizher, 17 years in the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem working for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society was killed. These medics were killed in the course of their duty as medics and while transporting the wounded while wearing their official uniforms and with their badges. With that, the occupation authorities is practicing grave violations against International Humanitarian Law, in particular its obligations under the Geneva Conventions 1949, and the obligations attached under the additional protocols of 1977 and 2005 regarding the protection of civilians and medical and humanitarian workers without a clear accountability and impunity.

Since March 30, 2018, a total of 781 medical and health workers have been wounded by the Israeli occupation forces [6] and damaged 98 ambulances and 3 health facilities, and during February and March the occupying forces injured at least five health workers and damaged two ambulances in seven incidents of attacks on health care in the Gaza Strip [7] , the occupation authorities also impose strict restrictions on the movement of workers and employees in the health sector, which may prevent 60% of health workers who apply to exit the Gaza Strip from the right to move freely to and from the Gaza Strip [8]. During the year 2018, the occupation authorities throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem imposed 3931 military checkpoints between Palestinian towns and villages, which constitute restrictions and violations for the movement of health and medical workers to Palestinian centers and hospitals, including hospitals in East Jerusalem. In October 2018, the Health Work Committees documented the targeting of the occupation forces to the health center in the old city of Hebron with two tear gas bombs that were fired at the gate of the health center and on the vehicle belonging to it, which is intended to transport medical equipment and devices [9].

Recommendations:

  1. The deliberate targeting of medical personnel and the transportation routes and field hospitals confirms the existence of a systematic policy directly ordering the shooting, which gives the green light to fire towards civilians and medical working groups.
  2. The international community’s decades long failure to hold Israeli war criminals and their leaders accountable for their crimes, despite the criticism of many leaders of  world organizations and the international community for the bloodshed practiced by the occupation forces on a large scale against peaceful demonstrators in Gaza. This excludes the Trump administration, which blames the Palestinians and gives Israel the green light and immunity to continue the killing and maiming against demonstrators and medical personnel.
  3. People ‘s Health Movement demands bodies and organizations of the United Nations  to take the necessary actions to provide protection to civilians and health workers through pressure on the Israeli government to comply with the resolution 2286 adopted by the Security Council in 2016, which calls for the protection of civilians, the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian workers, as well as to put an end to the impunity for officials in the occupation’s government and the army, and to ensure holding them accountable.
  4. The People’s Health Movement reiterates its call for international community and humanitarian organizations to intervene immediately in order to put pressure on the Israeli government to lift the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip since 11 years; which threatens a humanitarian and health disaster. The Gaza Strip continues to witness a marked deterioration in living standards, increased unemployment rate and reliance on economic aid, as well as a severe shortage of medical supplies, medicines, and sanitation, as well as treatment and rehabilitation services.
  5. The People’s Health Movement is demanding international organizations and bodies of the United Nations to work to conduct an independent investigation about the gross violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and to hold the occupation accountable for the abuses against civilians and health personnel and humanitarian workers.

References:

[1] Briefing Security Council on Resolution 2334 (2016), Special Coordinator Urges Reversing Negative Trends in Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

[2] A general harvest of Israeli occupation violations in the occupied territories during the year 2018

[3] See: Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

[4] World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. (2018) Right to Health: Palestinian Voices.

[5] World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. (2018) Right to Health: Palestinian Voices.

[6] See: Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

[7] World Health Organization Health Cluster Occupied Palestinian Territory. Situation Report Occupied Palestinian Territory , Gaza 01-28 February 2019

[8] World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. (2018) Right to Health: Palestinian Voices.

[9] Statement issued by the Health Work Committees Foundation : Israeli occupation forces continue to fire on peaceful demonstrators and kill a volunteer paramedic in the Gaza Strip

 

 

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