July 2018 Media Watch – JVP Health Advisory Council
Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource.
If you wish to join this effort, contact email@example.com. Please feel free to share the newsletter with your colleagues and communities and encourage them to join the JVP Health Advisory Council. Thanks to all who have contributed!
Clinicians in Gaza report shortage of essential medicines such as antibiotics and morphine, and lack of basic medical supplies such as surgical sutures, anesthetics and disinfectants, and external fixators for leg fractures. The shortage of expert physicians, medical devices, medicines and perishable supplies is the result of several factors that have operated for years to deepen the dependency of Gaza residents on external health services – in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in Israel. The responsibility for resolving this crisis lies with all political leaderships in the region – the Hamas government, the Fatah government in the West Bank, and the Israeli government.
Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old volunteer medic who was shot and killed by Israeli snipers while attending to a wounded protester, received wide spread coverage. Her death and the deaths of other health care providers is a violation of international law and the principle of medical neutrality. Members of the Israeli group Psychoactive – Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights, issued a statement condemning the massive sniper fire against Palestinian civilians. The Israeli army concluded that the killing of Razan was just an “accident.”
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor reports that the Israeli use of explosive bullets and poisonous gas against demonstrators caused excessive suffering which contravenes the rules of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report including eye witness accounts, indicates that Israeli forces’ repeated use of lethal force in the Gaza Strip since March 30, 2018, against Palestinian may amount to war crimes. HRW calls on the United Nations General Assembly to support a resolution calling for measures to guarantee the protection of Palestinians in Gaza. Additionally, there should be a UN inquiry mandated to investigate all Israeli violations and abuses and to identify Israeli officials responsible for issuing unlawful open-fire orders.
Snipers discuss their choice of targets and the open fire regulations.
A Gazan surgeon documents a massive orthopedic crisis and an onslaught of patients needing disability care. Rebuilding these services will not happen under siege.
Palestinian women and girls have been in the forefront of Gaza’s protests, actively participating and challenging their male dominated society.
If you are interested in understanding the narrative and framing in Israel, this article argues that the kites that some Gazans have been flying over the fence and causing fires in adjacent Israeli land are weapons that justify Israel taking drastic action. Recall that nobody has been killed by the kites, unlike the 135 people in Gaza who demonstrated for the Right to Return or the over 7000 wounded by Israeli snipers some with very serious and life changing wounds.
Until recently suicide in Gaza had been rare, partly due to Palestinian resilience and strong clan networks, but mostly because killing oneself is forbidden in traditional Muslim societies. Since 2016, suicide rates have been rising, reflecting rising levels of despair and hopelessness in the population.
Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously dismissed a petition by two human rights groups, Adalah and Al Mezan, that accused Israel’s military of violating the law by using snipers and live ammunition against peaceful Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The court ruled that the use of live fire was legal because the protesters constituted a real danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens. It also said that Hamas, which Israel has designated as a terrorist organization, intentionally mixed its members with civilians.
Thirty Israeli oncologists called upon the Ministry of Health and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to allow women cancer patients from Gaza to travel for urgent and lifesaving treatments in hospitals in Israel and the West Bank.
Several alarming news items from UNRWA, (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees):
Infant mortality in Gaza’s refugee population has not declined since 2006, a barometer for the health of the entire population. The blockade has affected the health sector in Gaza, as hospitals continue to lack adequate physical infrastructure, drugs, supplies, and infection prevention material. It is reasonable to assume that the unstable power supply, the deteriorating functionality of medical equipment, the periodic shortages of essential drugs and medical consumables have had an impact on the quality of medical care with a consequent impact on infant mortality.
The Trump administration is currently withholding US$65 million budget “pending further consideration.” This move by the superpower has amplified the agencies financial woes.
UNRWA, which provides health care, education, and food support, needs more than $200m to fund projects until the end of the year, with extra pledges so far unable to minimize a massive slash in donations from the US. Services may be affected as early as next month. UNRWA was thrown into severe financial crisis when Washington cut $250m from its budget earlier this year. UNRWA stated that the 50% funding cut by the United States endangers basic services and could impact 500,000 Palestinian children from being able to start the school year. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, posted on Twitter to say the organization is about helping Palestine refugees building a foundation of dignity and hope for the future.
Hamas commented that Arab and Muslim states should “live up to their pledges” and contribute to the funding of the refugee agency.
Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Gilad Erdan, has reportedly decided not to return the body of deceased Palestinian prisoner Aziz Oweisat, who died while in Israeli custody last week. Oweisat, 53, died last week under disputed circumstances while being treated at the Assaf Harofeh hospital in Israel. Palestinian groups claimed he was medically neglected, leading to his death. Israel’s Channel Two reported that the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency and Israeli Prison Service (IPS) opposed the minister’s decision for fear that it would cause “a Palestinian protesting wave,” especially in Ramadan.
Essay about the arrest and interrogation of Palestinian minors by Israeli occupation forces:
Excerpt: “The state of Israel does not sleep. It is obsessed with us. Our rocks keep them up. Our prayers in Jerusalem bother them. Our songs at school bother them,” says Ahmed Jamil Abu Rish, 15, who says he remembers how they arrested him and dragged him to the ground, which was filled with broken glass bottles that caused him wounds in his face. He remembers the interrogation room in the settlement of Tzofin, when he closed his eyes a little, but the soldier prevented him from sleeping, and whenever the soldier felt that Ahmed was sleeping, he hit him with his foot to wake him up.
The State of Palestine applied for full membership to three international organizations but held back from seeking full membership in the World Health Organization, following months of heavy diplomatic pressure at the highest levels. There was concern that such a move could have adverse financial effects for the agency, senior middle eastern, western, and UN diplomatic sources said.
The Mine Ban Treaty requires the destruction of all stockpiled antipersonnel landmines. Palestine, the newest state party to the treaty, has stated that it does not possess a stockpile and that it will not retain any mines for training purposes.
Palestine is the 164th State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty as of December 29, 2017. The Mine Ban Treaty will enter into force for Palestine on June 1, 2018.
Palestine is affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. The Landmine Monitor has recorded 3,625 casualties to date, with 15 landmines and explosive remnants of war casualties reported in 2016, of which almost half were children.
With Palestine on board, nine (Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen) of the 19 countries in the Middle East and North Africa have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates in the region still remain outside of the treaty.
The treatment of a Jewish terrorist being interrogated about the arson murder of a Palestinian family reveals the way the Shin Bet also interrogates Palestinian prisoners with torture, sexual harassment and deception. But Palestinian testimony obtained under torture is admissible in military courts.
Chief resident in Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s/Harvard Medical School and Co-founder of Health for Palestine, working in Palestinian refugee camps, reflects on the biopolitics in Palestine: community health, political violence and daily resistance and the intersection with the health of the population.
There is more followup on the International Association of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. The IARPP attempt to prevent a symposium on Palestine at the New York meetings, but the meeting was held and was well attended with a series of presentations and vigorous discussion which are available below. A UK and a Palestinian psychiatrist issued a challenge to the IARPP, exploring the events in Gaza and their framing and meaning.
The parliament of the Autonomous Community of Navarre became the first in Spain to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, BDS movement. Navarre is one of the 17 autonomous communities in Spain, which have their own parliaments.
The resolution was approved by every party except for the right wing Popular Party. The resolution demands that Spain’s central government “support any initiative promoted by the international BDS campaign” and to “suspend relations with Israel until that country stops its repressive policies against the Palestinian population.