JVP Health Advisory Council

November 26, 2018: Congressional hearing with Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei of Gaza

CALL TO ACTION: Please see important information about an upcoming congressional briefing about the mental health situation in Gaza featuring Dr Yasser Abu Jamei, Director of Gaza Community Mental Health Program. Dr Yasser is touring the U.S. for a few weeks and we hope many of you had the opportunity to hear him speak. Hearing about the dire health and mental health situation in Gaza from his first-hand experience is powerful and so important.
NOW, LET’S MAKE SURE OUR ELECTED MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HEAR DR YASSER TALK ABOUT GAZA.
Action Ask: Ask your MOC to attend Mental Health in Gaza briefing on 11/29
Our friends at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme are breaking through the congressional silence on the ongoing atrocity of the Israeli blockade of Gaza next week, with their director, Yasser Abu Jamei, speaking on Capitol Hill on Thursday, 11/29 at 12pm at a briefing on mental health in the Gaza Strip. Constituent asks are what make or break briefings like this- let’s get Yasser an audience.
The 30 second ask: Simply copy paste and send to your Member of Congress’s foreign policy legislative assistant the email below. Particularly if you don’t yet have a relationship with your MOC’s staff, we recommend adding a line at the top letting them know that you are a constituent, where you’re from, what you do in health, and what group(s) you organize with.
 
 Be sure to follow up with them to be sure they plan to attend. It’s the constituent pressure that fuels this work!
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Subject: Congressional Briefing on Mental Health in the Gaza Strip, 11/29 at 12pm
Hello,
Please attend this important Congressional briefing on mental health in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, November, 29 at 12pm in Rayburn 2203. Thank you.

CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON MENTAL HEALTH IN THE GAZA STRIP

Thursday, November 29, 2018
12:00 noon-1:30 p.m.
Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2203
lunch with RSVP as below

For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in the Gaza Strip has been in steady decline.  Unemployment is over 46%, nearly 65% among youth.  The blockade on land, air and sea imposed by Israel following the Hamas takeover of the Strip in 2007 has devastated markets, with the overwhelming majority of residents now dependent on humanitarian assistance.  Daily electricity has not averaged more than 8 hours, often less.  Ingress and egress from Gaza are severely restricted.  Three wars have led to thousands of deaths, scores of thousands injured, and widespread destruction of homes and property.  All of these conditions have led to an  exploding mental health crisis.

The panel discussion will highlight the social and psychological suffering, how the population copes with these conditions, and the ways in which NGO’s and other international organizations are attempting to address this catastrophe.  There will be time for questions and answers.  The event is open to the press.

Speakers:
*    Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, General Director, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Gaza City
*    Elizabeth Campbell, Director, UNRWA’s Representative Office, Washington, D.C.
*    Bill Slaughter, Trustee, US Gaza Mental Health Foundation
*    Brian K. Barber, Fellow, New American and Institute for Palestinian Studies

Moderator:
*    Khaled Elgindy, Brookings Institution

Sponsored by the US Gaza Mental Health Foundation in full compliance with all Senate and House rules.

Please RSVP to Info@GazaMentalHealth.org

Contacts: Bill Slaughter WSlaughterMD@Outlook.com, Brian K. Barber bkbarber@gmail.com 

August 21, 2018: The Weaponization of Health Care

The JVP Health Advisory Council condemns the increasing use of the denial of permits and access to medications and therapies for residents of Gaza by the Israeli government. Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Al Mezan, Gisha, and Adalah have recently petitioned the High Court of Justice to revoke the ruling made by the Political-Security Cabinet in 2017 and more strictly applied in 2018 to deny putative relatives of Hamas members the ability to leave Gaza for medical treatments. Israel officials claim the increase in denials is in response to the “incendiary kites and balloons. An additional reason given recently for exit visa refusals is as collective punishment to Hamas extended family members as a bargaining chip for the return of the body of an Israeli soldier killed in the 2014 war.

A recent inquiry by Gisha noted that 833 requests to leave Gaza in the first three months of 2018 were denied due to a first-degree relationship to a Hamas member, as opposed to 21 denials in all of 2017. These denials include patients suffering from cancer who cannot get treatment in the Gaza Strip due to Israel’s refusal to allow the entry of  chemotherapy medications, radiotherapy, molecular therapy, PET scans, and isotope scans. The al-Rantisis Pediatric  Hospital in Gaza reported 45 of 60 chemotherapy medications out of stock.

Al Mezan noted that in 2017 the World Health Organization documented an approval rate for medical permits at 54%, the lowest since they began monitoring the numbers in 2008. They reported 54 Gazans, 46 of whom had cancer, died as a result of these policies. Al Mezan reported that Gazans missed at least 11,000 medical appointments in 2017 due to the Israeli authority’s refusal to issue permits in a timely fashion or at all. The numbers in 2018 are more dire, 10-15 % of permits are approved, often after months of waiting and bureaucratic delays. The crisis is compounded by the Palestinian Authority’s decision to reduce essential services to the Gaza Strip in its ongoing battle with Hamas.

We support the statement by the director of Al-Mezan, Issam Younis: “The Israeli government’s restrictions on movement are directly connected to patient deaths and compounded suffering as ill patients seek permits. These practices form part of the closure and permit regime that prevents patients from a life of dignity, and violates the right to life. The closure system must be abolished so that patients have safe access to healthcare in Palestinian hospitals in the occupied Palestinian territories and elsewhere. The victims and their families must have their right to justice and redress upheld.”

The JVP HAC urges all members of the U.S. Congress to oppose the violation of human rights and international law inherent in restricting access to life-saving medical treatments. Clearly, increasing human suffering and death in the Gaza Strip will not make Israelis safer. The kites and balloons are a symptom of a larger disease, the imprisonment of two million Gazans in an increasingly desperate humanitarian catastrophe.

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August 5, 2018: Report by Dr. Swee Ang from the Freedom Flotilla al-Awda, stormed by Israeli forces on approaching Gaza

Events from 29 July when the Israeli Navy stormed the Freedom Flotilla al-Awda hijacked and diverted it from its intended course to Gaza to Israel.

By Dr Swee Ang, medical doctor on board the al-Awda, 4 August 2018

The last leg of the journey of al-Awda (the boat of return) was scheduled to reach Gaza on 29 July 2018. We were on target to reach Gaza that evening. There are 22 on board including crew with USD 15,000 of antibiotics and bandages for Gaza. At 12.31 pm we received a missed call from a number beginning with +81… Mikkel was steering the boat at that time. The phone rang again with the message that we were trespassing into Israeli waters. Mikkel replied that we were in International waters and had right of innocent passage according to maritime laws. The accusation of trespassing was repeated again and again with Mikkel repeating the message that we were sailing in international waters. This carried on for about half an hour, while Awda was 42 nautical miles from the coast of Gaza.

Prior to the beginning of this last leg, we had spent 2 days learning non-violent actions and had prepared ourselves in anticipation of Israeli invasion of our boat. Vulnerable individuals especially those with medical conditions were to sit at the rear of the top deck with their hands on the deck table. The leader of this group was Gerd, a 75 year old elite Norwegian athlete and she had the help of Lucia a Spanish nurse in her group.

The people who were to provide non-violent barrier to the Israelis coming on deck and taking over the boat formed 3 rows – two rows of threes and the third row of 2 persons blocking the wheel house door to protect the wheel house for as long as possible. There were runners between the wheel house and the rear of the deck. The leader of the boat Zohar and I were at the two ends of the toilets corridor where we looked out at the horizon and inform all of any sightings of armed boats. I laughed at Zohar and said we are the Toilet Brigade, but I think Zohar did not find it very funny. It was probably bad taste under the circumstances. I also would be able to help as a runner and will have accessibility to all parts of the deck in view of being the doctor on board.

Soon we saw at least three large Israeli warships on the horizon with 5 or more speed boats (zodiacs) zooming towards us. As the Zodiacs approached I saw that they carried soldiers with machine guns and there was on board the boats large machine guns mounted on a stand pointing at our boat. From my lookout point the first Israeli soldier climbed on board to the cabin level and climbed up the boat ladder to the top deck. His face was masked with a white cloth and following him were many others, all masked. They were all armed with machine guns and small cameras on their chests.

They immediately made to the wheel house overcoming the first row by twisting the arms of the participants, lifting Sarah up and throwing her away.  Joergen the chef was large to be manhandled so he was tasered before being lifted up. They attacked the second row by picking on Emelia the Spanish nurse and removed her thus breaking the line. They then approach the door of the wheel house and tasered Charlie the first mate and Mike Treen who were obstructing their entry to the wheel house. Charlie was beaten up as well. Mike did not give way with being tasered in his lower limbs so he was tasered in his neck and face. Later on I saw bleeding on the left side of Mike’s face. He was semi-conscious when I examined him.

They broke into the wheel house by cutting the lock, forced the engine to be switched off and took down the Palestine flag before taking down the Norwegian flag and trampling on it.

They then cleared all people from the front half of the boat around the wheel house and moved them by force and coercion, throwing them to the rear of the deck. All were forced to sit on the floor at the back, except Gerd, Lucy and the vulnerable people who were seated around the table on wooden benches around her. Israeli soldiers then formed a line sealing off people from the back and preventing them from coming to the front of the boat again.

As we entered the back of the deck we were all body searched and ordered to surrender our mobile phones or else they will take it by force. This part of search and confiscation was under the command of a woman soldier. Apart from mobile phones – medicines and wallets were also removed. No one as of today (4 August 2018) got our mobile phones back.

I went to examine Mike and Charlie. Charlie had recovered consciousness and his wrists were tied together with plastic cable ties. Mike was bleeding from the side of his face, still not fully conscious. His hands were very tightly tied together with cable ties and the circulation to his fingers was cut off and his fingers and palm were beginning to swell. At this stage the entire people seated on the floor shouted demanding that the cable ties be cut. It was about half an hour later before the ties were finally cut off from both of them.

Around this time Charlie the first mate received the Norwegian flag. He was visibly upset telling all of us that the Norwegian flag had been trampled on. Charlie reacted more to the trampling of the Norwegian flag than to his own being beaten and tasered.

The soldiers then started asking for the captain of the boat. The boys then started to reply that they were all the captain. Eventually the Israelis figured out that Herman was the captain and demanded to take him to the wheel house. Herman asked for someone to come with him, and I offered to do so. But as we approached the wheel house, I was pushed away and Herman forced into the wheel house on his own. Divina, the well known Swedish singer, had meanwhile broken free from the back and went to the front to look through the window of the wheel house. She started to shout and cry “Stop –stop they are beating Herman, they are hurting him”.  We could not see what Divina saw, but knew that it was something very disturbing. Later on, when Divina and I were sharing a prison cell, she told me they were throwing Herman against the wall of the wheel house and punching his chest. Divina was forcibly removed and her neck was twisted by the soldiers who took her back to the rear of the deck.

I was pushed back to the rear of the boat again. After a while the boat engine started. I was told later by Gerd who was able to hear Herman tell the story to the Norwegian Consul in prison that the Israelis wanted Herman to start the engine, and threatened to kill him if he would not do so. But what they did not understand was that with this boat, once the engine stopped it can only be restarted manually in the engine room in the cabin level below. Arne the engineer refused to restart the engine, so the Israelis brought Herman down and hit him in front of Arne making it clear that they will continue to hit Herman if Arne would not start the engine. Arne is 70 years old, and when he saw Herman’s face went ash colour, he gave in and started the engine manually. Gerd broke into tears when she was narrating this part of the story. The Israelis then took charge of the boat and drove it to Ashdod.

Once the boat was on course, the Israeli soldiers brought Herman to the medical desk. I looked at Herman and saw that he was in great pain, silent but conscious, breathing spontaneously but shallow breathing. The Israeli Army doctor was trying to persuade Herman to take some medicine for pain. Herman was refusing the medicine. The Israeli doctor explained to me that what he was offering Herman was not army medicine but his personal medicine. He gave me the medicine from his hand so that I could check it. It was a small brown glass bottle and I figured that it was some kind of liquid morphine preparation probably the equivalent of oromorph or fentanyl. I asked Herman to take it and the doctor asked him to take 12 drops after which Herman was carried off and slumped on a mattress at the back of the deck. He was watched over by people around him and fell asleep. From my station I saw he was breathing better.

With Herman settled I concentrated on Larry Commodore, the Native American leader and an environmental activist. He had been voted Chief of his tribe twice. Larry has labile asthma and with the stress all around my fear was that he might get a nasty attack, and needed adrenaline injection. I was taking Larry through deep breathing exercises. However Larry was not heading for an asthmatic attack, but was engaging an Israeli who covered his face with a black cloth in conversation. This man was obviously in charge.

I asked for the Israeli man with black mask his name and he called himself Field Marshall Ro…..Larry misheard him and jumped to conclusion that he called himself Field Marshall Rommel and shouted how can he an Israeli take a Nazi name. Field Marshall objected and introduced himself as Field Marshall ? Ronan. As I spelt out Ronan he quickly corrected me that his name is Ronen, and he Field Marshall Ronen was in charge.

The Israeli soldiers all wore body cameras and were filming us all the time. A box of sandwiches and pears were brought on deck for us. None of us took any of their food as we had decided we do not accept Israeli hypocrisy and charity. Our chef Joergen had already prepared high calorie high protein delicious brownie with nuts and chocolate, wrapped up in tin foil to be consume when captured, as we know it was going to be a long day and night. Joergen called it food for the journey. Unfortunately when I needed it most, the Israelis took away my food and threw it away. They just told me ”It is forbidden” I had nothing to eat for 24 hours, refusing Israeli Army food and had no food of my own.

As we sailed towards Israel we could see the coast of Gaza in total darkness. There were 3 oil /gas rigs in the northern sea of Gaza. The brightly burning oil flames contrasted with the total darkness the owners of the fuel were forced to live in. Just off the shore of Gaza are the largest deposit of natural gas ever discovered and the natural gas belonging to the Palestinians were already being siphoned off by Israel.

As we approached Israel, Zohar our boat leader suggested that we should start saying goodbye to each other. We were probably 2-3 hours from Ashdod. We thanked our boat leader, our Captain, the crew, our dear chef, and encouraged each other that we will continue to do all we can to free Gaza and also bring justice to Palestine. Herman our Captain, who managed to sit up now, gave a most moving talk and some of us were in tears.

We knew that in Ashdod there will be the Israeli media and film crews. We will not enter Ashdod as a people who had lost hope as we were taken captive. So we came off the boat chanting “Free Free Palestine” all the way as we came off. Mike Treen the union man had by then recovered from his heavy tasering and led the chanting with his mega-voice and we filled the night sky of Israel with Free Free Palestine as we approached. We did this the whole way down the boat into Ashdod.

We came directly into a closed military zone in Ashdod. It was a sealed off area with many stations. It was specially prepared for the 22 of us. It began with a security x-ray area. I did not realise they retained my money belt as I came out of the x-ray station. The next station was strip search, and it was when I was gathering up my belongings after being stripped when I realised my money belt was no longer with me. I knew I had about a couple hundred Euros and they were trying to steal it. I demanded its return and refused to leave the station until it was produced. I was shouting for the first time. I was glad I did that as some other people were parted from their cash. The journalist from Al Jazeera Abdul had all his credit cards and USD 1,800 taken from him, as well as his watch, satellite phone, his personal mobile, his ID. He thought his possessions were kept with his passport but when he was released for deportation he learnt bitterly that he only got his passport back. All cash and valuables were never found. They simply vanished.

We were passed from station to station in this closed military zone, stripped searched several times, possessions taken away until in the end all we had was the clothes we were wearing with nothing else except a wrist band with a number on it.  All shoe laces were removed as well. Some of us were given receipts for items taken away, but I had no receipts for anything. We were photographed several times and saw two doctors. At this point I learnt that Larry was pushed down the gangway and injured his foot and sent off to Israeli hospital for check-up. His blood was on the floor.

I was cold and hungry, wearing only one teeshirt and pants by the time they were through with me. My food was taken away; water was taken away, all belongings including reading glasses taken away. My bladder was about to explode but I am not allowed to go to the toilet. In this state I was brought out to two vehicles – Black Maria painted gray. On the ground next to it were a great heap of ruqsacks and suit cases. I found mine and was horrified that they had broken into my baggage and took almost everything from it – all clothes clean and dirty, my camera, my second mobile, my books, my Bible, all the medicines I brought for the participants and myself, my toiletries. The suitcase was partially broken. My ruqsack was completely empty too. I got back two empty cases except for two dirty large man size teeshirts which obviously belonged to someone else. They also left my Freedom Flotilla teeshirt. I figured out that they did not steal the Flotilla teeshirt as they thought no Israeli would want to wear that teeshirt in Israel. They had not met Zohar and Yonatan who were proudly wearing theirs. That was a shock as I was not expecting the Israeli Army to be petty thieves as well. So what had become the glorious Israeli Army of the Six Day War which the world so admired?

I was still not allowed to go to the toilet, but was pushed into the Maria van, joined by Lucia the Spanish nurse and after some wait taken to Givon Prison. I could feel myself shivering uncontrollably on the journey.

The first thing our guards did in Givon Prison was to order me to go to the toilet to relieve myself. It was interesting to see that they knew I needed to go desperately but had prevented me for hours to! By the time we were re-x-rayed and searched again it must be about 5 – 6 am. Lucia and I were then put in a cell where Gerd, Divina, Sarah and Emelia were already asleep. There were three double decker bunk beds – all rusty and dusty.

Divina did not get the proper dose of her medicines; Lucia was refused her own medicine and given an Israeli substitute which she refused to take. Divina and Emelia went straight on to hunger strike. The jailors were very hostile using simple things like refusal of toilet paper and constant slamming of the prison iron door, keeping the light of the cell permanently on, and forcing us to drink rusty water from the tap, screaming and shouting at us constantly to vent their anger at us.

The guards addressed me as “China” and treated me with utter contempt. On the morning of 30 July 2018, the British Vice Consul visited me. Some kind person had called them about my whereabouts. That was a blessing as after that I was called “England” and there was a massive improvement in the way England was treated compared to the way China was treated. It crossed my mind that “Palestine” would be trampled over, and probably killed.

At 6.30am 31 July 2018, we heard Larry yelling from the men’s cell across the corridor that he needed a doctor. He was obviously in great pain and crying. We women responded by asking the wardens to allow me to go across to see Larry as I might be able to help. We shouted “We have a doctor” and used our metal spoons to hit the iron cell gate get their attention. They lied and said their doctor will be over in an hour. We did not believe them and started again. The doctor actually turned up at 4 pm, about 10 hours later and Larry was sent straight to hospital.

Meanwhile to punish the women for supporting Larry’s demand, they brought hand cuffs for Sarah and took Divina and me to another cell to separate us from the rest. We were told we were not going to be allowed out for our 30 minutes fresh air break and a drink of clean water in the yard. I heard Gerd saying “Big deal”

Suddenly Divina was taken out with me to the courtyard and Divina given 4 cigarettes at which point she broke down and cried. Divina had worked long hours at the wheel house steering the boat. She had seen what happened to Herman. The prison had refused to give her one of her medicines and given her only half the dose of the other. She was still on hunger strike to protest our kidnapping in international waters. It was heart-breaking to see Divina cry. One of the wardens who called himself Michael started talking to us about how he will have to protect his family against those who want to drive the Israelis out. And how the Palestinians did not want to live in peace…and it was not Israel’s fault. But things suddenly changed with the arrival of an Israeli Judge and we were all treated with some decency even though he only saw a few of us personally. His job was to tell us that a Tribunal will be convened the following day and each prisoner had been allocated a time to appear, and we must have our lawyer with us when we appear.

Divina by the end of the day became very giddy and very unwell so I persuaded her to come out of hunger strike, and also she agreed to sign a deportation order. Shortly after that possibly at 6 pm since we had no watches and mobile phones, we were told Lucia, Joergen, Herman, Arne, Abdul from Al Jazeera and I would be deported within 24 hours and we would be taken to be imprisoned in the deportation prison in Ramle near Ben Gurion airport immediately to wait there. It was going to be the same Ramle Prison from which I was deported in 2014. I saw the same five strong old palm trees still standing up proud and tall. They are the only survivors of the Palestinian village destroyed in 1948.

When we arrived at Ramle prison Abdul found to his horror that he his money, his credit cards, his watch, his satellite phone, his own mobile phone, his  ID card were all missing – he was entirely destitute. We had a whip round and raised around a hundred Euros as a contribution towards his taxi fare from the airport to home. How can the Israeli Army be so corrupt and heartless to rob someone of everything?

 

Conclusion:

We, the six women on board al-Awda had learnt that they tried to completely humiliate and dehumanise us in every way possible. We were also shocked at the behaviour of the Israeli Army especially petty theft and their treatment of international women prisoners. Men jailors regularly entered the women’s cell without giving us decent notice to put our clothes on.

They also tried to remind us of our vulnerability at every stage. We know they would have preferred to kill us but of course the publicity incurred in so doing might be unfavourable to the international image of Israel.

If we were Palestinians it would be much worse with physical assaults and probably loss of lives. The situation is therefore dire for the Palestinians.

As to international waters, it looks as though there is no such thing for the Israeli Navy. They can hijack and abduct boats and persons in international water and get away with it. They acted as though they own the Mediterranean Sea. They can abduct any boat and kidnap any passengers, put them in prison and criminalise them.

We cannot accept this. We have to speak up, stand up against this lawlessness, oppression and brutality. We were completely unarmed. Our only crime according to them is we are friends of the Palestinians and wanted to bring medical aid to them. We wanted to brave the military blockade to do this. This is not a crime. In the week we were sailing to Gaza, they had shot dead 7 Palestinians and wounded more than 90 with life bullets in Gaza. They had further shut down fuel and food to Gaza. Two million Palestinians in Gaza live without clean water, with only 2-4 hours of electricity, in homes destroyed by Israeli bombs, in a prison blockaded by land, air and sea for 12 years. The hospitals of Gaza since the 30 March had treated more than 9,071 wounded persons, 4,348 shot by machine guns from a hundred Israeli snipers while they were mounting peaceful demonstrations inside the borders of Gaza on their own land. Most of the gun-shot wounds were to the lower limbs and with depleted treatment facilities the limbs will suffer amputation. In this period more than 165 Palestinians had been shot dead by the same snipers, including medics and journalists, children and women. The chronic military blockade of Gaza has depleted the hospitals of all surgical and medical supplies. This massive attack on an unarmed Freedom Flotilla bringing friends and some medical relief is an attempt to crush all hope for Gaza. As I write I learnt that our sister Flotilla, Freedom, has also been kidnapped by the Israeli Navy while in international waters.

BUT we will not stop, we must continue to be strong to bring hope and justice to the Palestinians and be prepared to pay the price, and to be worthy of the Palestinians. As long as I survive I will exist to resist.  To do less will be a crime.

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April 24, 2018: Emergency statement: Gaza protests and Israeli military response
first published in Mondoweiss
Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council: Emergency Statement
Gaza Protests—Israel’s Military Response: Human Rights Under Assault
The Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP HAC) issues this statement out of grave concern about the Israeli Military’s use of excessive force, including live ammunition and tear gas against protesters in Gaza. For the past four Fridays, demonstrators within Gaza were met by the Israeli military firing live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, and teargas across the border fence. The disproportional response of the Israeli military to a mostly unarmed civilian demonstration reflects a disregard for the basic human rights of Palestinians and for the safety and health of the people of the besieged Gaza Strip, where dire humanitarian conditions exist. This military response violates international law. Of further concern is the obstruction by the Israeli and the United States governments to the United Nations’ issuing a statement condemning these actions.

According to the New York Times, the Israeli military response to these protests has resulted in 37 deaths (4 people under the age of 18) and over 3000 wounded.

Over 1000 of the wounded were hit by live ammunition, 300 by rubber-coated bullets, and 1000 by large doses of tear gas. Among those targeted were journalists (wearing identifying vests)—1 was killed and at least 6 have been wounded, and medics. Those with lethal wounds were shot in the chest, the back, and abdomen. Many also had been shot in the legs, pelvis, and hands.  There have been no Israeli injuries.

The Israeli military response violates international law, which requires that lethal force only be used when there is the threat of bodily harm. Given the well-fortified barrier fence, electronic surveillance, and inhospitable terrain, there is no justification for this response.  Israeli snipers inflicting life-threatening wounds from considerable distance from the fence constitute violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Eric Goldstein, Deputy Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch stated, “Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations.”  The Israeli military tweeted that, “Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”

We speak out as health workers concerned about this ongoing impunity of the Israeli military to use lethal and harmful force on those demonstrating for an end to the brutal occupation and conditions they endure. The context for the weekly protests by the Palestinians is the political reality under which the population lives and suffers— an intransigent and harsh military occupation and siege. In Gaza, over half the population consists of refugees and their descendants forced from their lands when the State of Israel was founded. The Great March of Return, as this protest is called, represents the Palestinian yearning to exercise the right of all refugees to return to their homes—a right guaranteed by international law. The Gaza protests are also demanding an end to Israeli occupation and a lifting of the siege that has devastated the Gaza infrastructure and caused severe shortages and hardships on the 2 million inhabitants of that tiny area of land.

Those wounded in the protests face a health care system that lacks adequate medications and supplies. Electricity restrictions require the use of backup generators to maintain critical services. Patients with wounds beyond the capacity of the Gaza medical system are being denied exit visas to receive care in Israel or on the West Bank.  As in past assaults on Gaza where medical facilities and personnel have been targeted, on Friday April 13 an emergency medical clinic near the encampment in Khan Yunis was hit by teargas, causing severe illness symptoms in some of the personnel. Physicians for Human Rights Israel stated “The Palestinian health care system (is) ‘one of the major victims’ of Israel’s blockade.”

The JVP HAC calls for the following:

  1. A full and impartial investigation of the Israeli military’s actions since March 30 in response to the Gaza protests. The investigation must be conducted by an international human rights body such as the United Nations. The investigation should look at not just the actions of the soldiers at the Gaza border, but the orders from commanding military and government officials.
  2. An end to the siege on Gaza. This is creating a humanitarian crisis as restrictions are imposed on: basic human services and goods including health supplies and services, food, and the economic infrastructure, leading to massive unemployment, poverty and aid dependence, and the obstruction of the right to movement, thus restricting and delaying transfer of patients for essential medical care outside of Gaza.
  3. Lethal force must always be a last resort and used ONLY when there is a threat to bodily harm. International law stipulates the conditions under which lethal force can be used. Such conditions are clearly not present and Israeli military preemptive planning including the positioning of “military sharpshooters” at the border fence is a clear violation of international human rights standards.

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April 17, 2018: Please read the full report from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel Emergency Delegation to the Gaza Strip.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel’s delegation returned from the Gaza Strip after providing medical treatment to 380 patients and operating on 15 of them: “In the most advanced hospital in Gaza it felt like the 1970s. If things remain this way, most gunshot casualties will have to undergo amputation.”
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March 9, 2018: Social workers are demanding the release of Munther Amira, a Palestinian social worker and human rights activist from Aida Refugee Camp, arrested by Israeli authorities during  a protest re: Palestinian children incarcerated for political activities. 

Please sign the petition demanding his release.

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February 2018: Palestinian Mental Health Workers who are citizens of Israel and Members of Psychoactive- Israeli Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights – issue individual statements protesting the IARPP Conference in June 2019 to be held in Israel

Palestinian Mental Health Workers Statement regarding IARPP Conference June 2019

February 13, 2018

This letter has been sent by Ms. Abu Haq and her colleagues to Steven Kuchuck, IARPP President, Chana Ullman, IARPP Past President, and Jessica Benjamin, IARPP Board Member

February 6th 2018

Dear IARPP Board Members,

We, the undersigned, are Palestinian mental health professionals, citizens of Israel, mostly psychodynamically oriented, we have studied relational approaches and appreciate them deeply.

We are contacting you with regards to the international conference scheduled to take place in Israel in June 2019. We feel compelled to state our position concerning the request, made by Dr. Samah Jabr, East Jerusalem-based Palestinian psychiatrist and psychotherapist, and other international colleagues, for the Board to reconsider the conference location.

We have been exposed to the key relational concepts, such as intersubjectivity and mutual recognition, and appreciate the way that the relational theory and practice make room for thinking about the mental health impacts of social and political conditions. In this light, we were surprised to discover that IARPP chose to hold its international conference in Israel, despite its longstanding history of human rights abuses, notably the violent occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. In our minds, not taking these ongoing assaults on Palestinian lives and human rights into account when choosing the conference location could be translated as their quiet acceptance by IARPP.

We wish to express our solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues in the Occupied West Bank and Besieged Gaza, who suffer daily from oppression, denial of freedom and chronic violence, including frequent killings of civilians by the Israeli Army, which largely go unpunished. We assert that our Palestinian colleagues have a right to resist the Occupation.

In addition, we would like to point out that holding the conference in Tel Aviv will make it impossible for many of our Palestinian colleagues, who are working hard to try and alleviate our people’s suffering and boost their resilience, to attend this important professional conference. This we see as unjust and unjustified.

Therefore, we propose to hold the conference in another location in the region, such as Cyprus or Jordan, where both Palestinian and Israeli participants can travel. While the Palestinians’ freedom of movement is restricted no matter where they wish to travel, it is easier for those of us trapped in Occupied West Bank and Besieged Gaza to obtain the necessary permits required for traveling to the said countries then to be allowed to enter Israel.

We are full of hope that the IARPP Board will take our appeal seriously and make an ethical choice to side with the oppressed, enabling as many Palestinian colleagues as possible to attend the conference that is about to take place in our region. We are certain that obtaining access to relational ideas and training will enhance Palestinian mental health professionals’ ability to support our people in their daily coping and their struggle for justice.

Respectfully,

Manal Abu Haq Clinical Social Worker, Psychotherapist, IARPP member

Dr Mustafa Qossoqsi, Clinical Psychologist

Hanan Khamis-Zoabi, Developmental Psychologist

Fatima Birro, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Caesar Hakim, Clinical Psychologist

Maya Rabea, Clinical Psychologist

Tony Haddad, Clinical Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Manal Assi, Clinical Social Worker

Fatina Nabulsi, Clinical Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Yoa’d Ganadry Hakim, Clinical Psychologist

Rana Azaiza, Clinical Social Worker

Rana Shehab Naara , Clinical Psychologist

Suzan Ukasha, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Adnan Abu El Hija, Clinical Psychologist

Najla Asmar, Clinical Psychologist

Dr Sfaa GH Naser, Clinical Psychologist

Amira Shahla, Clinical Psychologist

Laila Baransa Farah, Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Amany Ayad, Social Worker, Arts therapist

Ali Jaber Abu-Gosh, Clinical psychology Intern

Maha SakallahTali, Social Worker, Couples And Family Therapist

Rana Shawahdy Social Worker, Psychotherapist

Raed Armaly, Educational Psychology Intern

Gawdat Aslih, Educational Psychology Intern

Public statement by members of “Psychoactive: Mental health professionals for human rights” regarding the 2019 IARPP annual conference

February 26, 2018

The 2019 annual IARPP conference, due to be held in Israel, has become a matter of fierce controversy following a call to the IARPP board by a group of mental health professionals, headed by psychiatrist Dr Samah Jabr (henceforth, “the Reconsideration Call”). The Reconsideration Call protested the decision to hold the conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, in view of Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestinian territories and lives. The call asks the Board to reconsider this location. The IARPP response to the Reconsideration Call suggested that the conference could address the Occupation by way of a pre-conference, tours of the Occupied Territories and the incorporation of designated panels that would discuss psychoanalytic aspects of the Occupation, but reiterated the Board’s decision concerning the location of the conference.

We, the undersigned members of Psychoactive**, have discussed this matter. In the past, we organized a number of conferences that engaged with mental health aspects of the Israeli Occupation. We appreciate the IARPP’s response to the Reconsideration Call, but find it problematic that the Board was not willing to engage in a more thorough way with the plea of the Palestinian and international professionals.

Holding the annual international conference in Israel is not a technical matter. An international conference held in Israel will be very difficult for Palestinian professionals to access. International professionals who actively support the Palestinian struggle for freedom are also likely to face problems gaining access to the site. Moreover, in the eyes of many, holding an event of this nature in Tel Aviv implies a political position that accepts the Israeli Occupation as a reality with which we/people can live. The Israeli establishment traditionally sees such events as expressions of acceptance of Israel’s policy and the fierce debate in the IARPP network also attests to the political and ideological significance that is ascribed to the conference location.

Some of us have already written to persons on the IARPP Board asking that the Reconsideration Call seriously be taken into account. We now reiterate this in a more formal manner. We suggest that the IARPP Board reconsider its planned location for the 2019 conference – Tel Aviv, Israel – and use the Reconsideration Call as a platform for a genuine, respectful conversation with Palestinian mental health professionals, as well as with the international professionals who support the struggle against the Israeli Occupation.

Manal Abu Hak, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Noga Ariel-Ganor, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Ruth Ben Asher, member of Psychoactive

Varda Blum, member of Psychoactive

Tova Buksbaum, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Yvonne Deutsch, member of Psychoactive

Efrat Even Tsur, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Edna Gam, member of Psychoactive

Chani Glick, member of Psychoactive

Sunny Gordon-Bar, member of Psychoactive

Dorit Gurny, member of Psychoactive

Uri Hadar, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Neta Hemo, member of Psychoactive

Elana Lakh, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Tamar Lavi, member of Psychoactive

Naomi Lippin, member of Psychoactive

Ruchama Marton, member of Psychoactive

Anat Mendelson-Machnes, member of Psychoactive

Maya Mukamel, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Tamar Peleg, member of Psychoactive

Esther Rapoport, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Perle Rine, member of Psychoactive

Asaf Rolef Ben Shahar, member of IARPP

Lirona Rosenthal, member of Psychoactive

Dan Schachter, member of Psychoactive

David Senesh, member of Psychoactive

Nava Sonnenschein, member of Psychoactive

Bella Sosevski, member of Psychoactive

Leora Sotto, member of Psychoactive

Yael Tal Barzilai, member of Psychoactive

Daniel Tsur, member of Psychoactive

Kim Yuval, member of Psychoactive

Effi Ziv, member of IARPP and Psychoactive

Yitzhak Mendelsohn, member of IARPP

* IARPP – International Association for Relational Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

** Psychoactive – Mental Health Professionals for Human Rights

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:  Elizabeth Berger, MD  USA PalMHN

Phone:    (215) 740-3090

Email:     bergerusapalmhn@gmail.com

Over 1000 signatures protest mental health group’s decision to meet in Israel

New York, NY February 12, 2018

Over one thousand mental health workers and professionals have signed a petition protesting the decision of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) to hold its 2019 international conference in Tel Aviv, citing human rights abuses by the state of Israel and discriminatory practices which render full participation of local and international clinicians an impossibility.

Holding the conference in Israel inevitably severely limits conference participation by Palestinian clinicians because of the longstanding imposition of movement restrictions, curfews, and checkpoints by Israel as well as its targeting of community leaders in Palestine–such as the arrest in January 2018 of Munther Amira, a former Secretary General of the Palestine Union of Social Workers and Psychologists. What’s more, the state of Israel has announced in January 2018 its redoubled effort to blacklist international persons suspected of criticism of Israel, who will not be permitted to enter the country. Members of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and members of many other non-violent political action groups have been singled out by the Israeli government. Mental health workers belonging to these and other forbidden organizations will be blocked from entering Israel and deported. In addition, clinicians from a number of neighboring countries in the Middle East are prevented from entering Israel and thus cannot attend the conference.

The leadership of IARPP has responded to the protest with reassuring promises to create a forum for open debate at its Tel Aviv conference. But it is clear that open debate cannot take place in Israel, because of the ongoing human rights violations that preclude open debate. The IARPP accuses the protest of limiting “academic freedom,” but this claim is disingenuous.  It is the state of Israel that limits academic freedom.

The choice of Israel as a conference location is a vote of support of the Israeli

government and its apartheid policies.

The petition itself is here:

https://secure.everyaction.com/hIIcCM7s106Wu9RFAS0D_A2

The petition was launched through the organizations USA-Palestine Mental Health Network and Jewish Voice for Peace, with support from the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network. Their websites are here:

https://ukpalmhn.com/usa-palestine-mental-health-network/

https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/israeli-palestinian-conflict-101/

https://ukpalmhn.com/

The IARPP website is here:

http://iarpp.net/

###

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 8, 2018

Contact: Elizabeth Berger MD (215) 740 3090 bergerusapalmhn@gmail.com

Alice Rothchild MD (617) 512 3249 contact.alicerothchild@gmail.com

Doctors urge mental health group not to meet in Israel

International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) urged to reconsider international meetings in Israel in 2019

Add Your Name Here.

American mental health clinicians and renowned psychiatrist Samah Jabr call on the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) to reconsider its decision to hold its 2019 international meeting in Israel due to Israel’s long-standing human rights violations and the current escalation of attacks on the Palestinian people following President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The clinicians cite the inappropriateness of Israel as the host because of Israel’s state policies of land seizures, restriction of freedom of movement, control over natural resources, extrajudicial assassination and the torture of Palestinian children.   They assert that as mental health workers familiar with the impact of violence on the well-being of children, families and communities, and dedication to humanitarian values, they have “an added responsibility to make our voices heard.”

The letter to the Board of IARPP states that locating international conferences (especially for a profession associated with individual and public health) in Israel represents a tacit acceptance of such Israeli state policies  and normalizes current policies regarding Palestinians in the occupied territories.  The letter goes on to note “It is particularly ironic and painful to see Israel chosen as the site of an international conference when the central theme of the particular organization is the in-depth understanding of human relationships.” By holding the conference in Israel it glosses over the behavior of the State of Israel towards its occupied population and the nearly two million Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.   “To object to the choice of Israel as the location of international conferences is a way of bringing the conduct of the state of Israel into the foreground as a subject of discussion and debate, so that the extent of the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people can be acknowledged.”

  • Clinicians are urged to sign the petition that will be sent to the IARPP. Sign here.

  • More on the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy here: http://iarpp.net/
  • Read the full letter to the IARPP Board here:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/letter.pdf

About The USA Palestine Mental Health Network:

The network of American mental health professionals aims to make known the impact of the Israeli occupation of Palestine on the mental health and well being of both Palestinians and Israelis.   USA PalMHN is a sibling organization of the well established UK Palestine Mental Health Network.

For more information please visit:  https://ukpalmhn.com/usa-palestine-mental-health-network/usa-about-us/    or   https://ukpalmhn.com/

About the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council:

A network of JVP members who work in the field of health and use equity and social justice as the lens through which to view the conditions of populations living under occupation and blockade. The work is guided by the World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as well as by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information please visit: https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/jvp-health-advisory-council/#mission

###

 

The USA Palestine Mental Health Network and the UK Palestine Mental Health Network are co-sponsoring a trip in the spring of 2018 for mental health workers.

From March 25th – April 3rd, learn about:

  • life today for the Palestinians living under a brutal military occupation
  • trauma within families and how it affects women and children
  • violence against children, including imprisonment
  • perspectives from our Palestinian and Israeli counterparts

This ten-day tour follows the success of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network’s study tours in 2016 and 2017.

The aim is to develop close links of equality and solidarity with Palestinian mental health professionals to ensure that the work of the USA and UK Networks reflect their experiences and priorities.

During the 2018 mental health study tour, participants will have unique opportunities to meet with their colleagues and other key organisations and institutions that focus on Palestinian heritage, dignity, and culture. Participants will be provided with analysis about the political realities created by Israeli government policies and how they affect Palestinians who live in the occupied territory as well as within the state of Israel. A broad range of perspectives is gained, with the focus on the agencies of peace in both societies grounded in universal human rights and international law.

Tour participants will also hear stories from local people who share their experiences, hopes and aspirations for the future.

The tour is being facilitated by a small UK company with nearly twenty years of experience in providing alternative tours to the Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT) and Israel. Hotels used will be in Bethlehem and Nazareth and field trips will extend into the surrounding areas such as Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jaffa/Tel Aviv and Haifa.  Visiting the different geographical regions of the deserts, plains, mountains, and the Mediterranean coast add additional interest to the tour itinerary. Travel will be in a private comfortable coach with an expert local driver from a licensed bus company.  The group will be kept to a maximum of 18 participants and debriefing sessions will be held most evenings.

The cost of $1400 per person includes the full tour program staying at three-star hotels with half-board (bed, breakfast and evening meal), sharing a twin-bedded room with ensuite facilities, guidance from the tour leader, other day-guides and tips.

Flights, lunches and travel insurance is not included. The cost for those requiring single room accommodation is $1700. The tour price includes a non-refundable registration fee of $300.

All interested applicants should be in good health and able to climb steps and walk over rough terrain. An application form must be completed and a reference will be obtained. When places are confirmed, participants are given a detailed information pack which covers all aspects of the tour including the itinerary.  Personal assistance is available to answer any questions and to help participants make the most of this unique opportunity.

As places are limited, don’t delay. We invite those in the US and North America, Central America, and South America to contact uspalmhn@gmail.com  for an application form.

Those elsewhere internationally are invited to contact ukpalmhn@gmail.com 

“Thank you for an extraordinary and valuable experience. There is no other way I could have got access to such a range of people and organisations or seen so much in such a short period of time. I highly recommend this tour for anyone who is interested in knowing the facts behind the political rhetoric.”                                                                                                                                        S Farrant, spring 2017

 “The tour provided a superb mix of in-depth encounters with mental health practitioners and overviews of the political and social conditions within which mental health services operate and – without which it would be impossible to understand their dilemmas, struggles and triumphs.”              

G Daniel, spring 2016

 

  •  PRESS RELEASE: Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

September 27, 2017

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Six Gaza cancer patients die after being denied access to treatment 

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is deeply concerned that five female cancer patients died in August after being prevented from attending hospital appointments outside of Gaza.  According to MAP’s information, the deaths of at least five such patients in one month is the highest number of monthly fatalities on record. MAP knows of one further cancer patient death since then. The charity has information on 30 people dying already this year after being prevented from attending treatment outside of Gaza – indicating that 2017 will be the worst year on record. Fourteen of the deaths were of cancer patients.

Denying women access to potentially life-saving treatment is indefensible”, said Aimee Shalan, CEO of MAP, “and underlines both the severity of the humanitarian emergency in Gaza and the urgent need for man-made barriers to accessing healthcare to be lifted.” [This link includes a petition you could sign]

According to the monthly Gaza healthcare access report of the World Health Organization, the five women who died in August were aged between 26 and 53 years old. Two of the women suffered from colon cancer, one from ovarian cancer, one from breast cancer and one from a rare cancer known as a primitive neuroectodermal tumour.

Since August, a 53-year-old woman with breast cancer- who attended a MAP-supported health centre- also died after she was prevented from accessing treatment outside Gaza. There are very likely additional deaths not recorded by the WHO or MAP.

MAP has persistently highlighted barriers to healthcare in Gaza and across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for Palestinian patients in general and for cancer patients in particular.It has documented how challenges posed by restrictions on the right to movement for patients and doctors, shortages of essential medicines, and the shortcomings of the health system in the oPt all constitute obstacles to continuous and effective treatment and care for Palestinian women with breast cancer.

This week, a MAP-supported multi-disciplinary breast cancer care team is in Gaza and the West Bank undertaking surgeries, assessing current levels of care provision, and providing training. The specialist team includes surgeons, a clinical oncologist, a radiologist, a clinical nurse and a palliative care specialist.

The work of this fantastic breast cancer team is an important step towards strengthening the ability of the Palestinian healthcare system to improve treatment pathways and the lives of breast cancer patients, but it can only do so much” added Aimee Shalan. “Israel as the occupying power and all other duty-bearers must remove barriers to accessing medical treatment. As these tragic deaths emphasise, this should begin with ending the decade-long blockade and closure of Gaza.”

The six women cancer patients known to have died after being prevented from accessing treatment outside of Gaza are Faten Ahmed, Kaenat Jaa’rur, Nadia Hamad, Itimad Rabi’e, Muna al-Aila and Ibtesam Nabhan.

MAP encourages the UK and other governments to demand an end to Israel’s closure and blockade of Gaza, deemed “collective punishment” by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. MAP also encourages the UK and others to support the long-term development of human resources and infrastructure of the Palestinian healthcare system in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Press contacts:

Neil Sammonds, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Medical Aid for Palestinians

E: neil.sammonds@map.org.uk // T: 0207 288 7342

For more information on barriers to access to healthcare in the occupied Palestinian territory:

https://www.map.org.uk/downloads/health-under-occupation-vol-1—access-to-healthcare.pdf

——————

  • Important analysis by Dr. Mads Gilbert

Is “Palestine” the target of an academic boycott in major US medical journals? Publication patterns on occupied Palestine in four key medical journals 1990-2016

Mads Gilbert, MD PhD
Clinic of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway. Mail: mads.gilbert@gmail.com

Background
Political influence on public and individual health and health care delivery are key to the manmade preconditions for human rights and development – or destruction – of ‘the human condition’. A deeper understanding of social determinants of health (water, food, human security, sanitation, work, shelter, human rights etc.) is the responsibility of health workers, researchers and editors of medical journals and politicians. These factors lie beyond traditional curative medicine, but still determine inequalities and negative developments of population health. Discussions of ‘political determinants of health’ for Palestinians seems irrelevant or out of bounds for leading medical
journals. The current crisis in Syria is frequently described, and the suffering of civilians, attacks on health care and violent breeches of key international and humanitarian laws are discussed and condemned. Violations of the immunity of health care in Syria are rightly condemned by leading medical journals. This study used relevant key words to explore if similar questions pertinent to
Occupied Palestine territories (oPt) and Palestinian healthcare is a ‘no-go-zone’ for four major US and European medical journals.

Method
Searches were conducted in four major medical journals’ for occurrences of the keywords ‘Gaza’, ‘West Bank’ or the stem ‘Palestin*’ and ‘Israel*’ for the period January 1990 to September 2016, using each journal’s search engine. This study examined the four highest-ranked, peer-reviewed international medical journals: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The New
England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), The Lancet (Lancet) and The British Medical Journal (BMJ). Searches were conducted September 2016.

Interpretation
This study based on key word-searches shows a significant disparity of editorial attention and publication policies on the situation in occupied Palestine and the medical conditions for the Palestinian people. The two European based journals have published significantly more, engaged in
discourses and discussed responsibilities for the dire health condition of the vulnerable Palestinian populations. The US-based journals have published next to nothing on the same critical issues. The medical conditions and deterioration in health care in oPt is currently ignored if not actively
boycotted by the US journals studied. Unlike the situation in Syria, the medical situation in oPt represents longstanding violations of basic human rights and international laws with clear responsibilities on the governments of Israel and USA. The destructive, US-backed Israeli siege of Gaza’s two million inhabitants is in its 9th year and ongoing. The siege combined with repetitious,
disproportionate and indiscriminate military attacks on Gaza and health care infrastructure are the main reasons for the decay in public health and innumerable avoidable deaths.
The seemingly partisan silence of two top US medical journals in response to this Israeli destruction and dislocation of health services in Palestine is biased and unacceptable for scientific medical journals. Medical leaders, including journal editors, who remain inactive and silent, are ‘complicit in a
preventable tragedy that may have long-lasting public-health consequences not only for Gaza, but also for the entire region’, The Lancet stated in 2009 (Editorial, Jan 17, 2009)

——————————-

  • Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council Statement
    Impact of the 10 year Siege and the Electricity Crisis on Health in Gaza
    June 29, 2017

Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council issues this urgent statement to raise awareness and concern about the life-threatening and dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The situation has been made more critical in recent days by a 40% reduction of the already severely limited supply of electricity by Israel.  This catastrophic situation is largely the result of long and short term Israeli policies manipulated and exacerbated by the cynical power struggle between the leadership of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

June 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of the Israeli imposed siege on Gaza and the 50th year of the occupation of Palestinian lands. The two million people of Gaza have born the heaviest brunt of this political situation. Israel’s total control of the air, sea and land is responsible for devastating the economy, destroying the health, environmental, educational and social services network in Gaza. In a land flanked by the Mediterranean Sea, graced with fertile ground and a highly educated population, the political situation has left Gaza without adequate water, electricity and health services. Over 80% of the population is dependent on international aide for basic food supplies. Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world—at 44% overall and for young people coming out of the universities, it is as high as 60%.

The recent reduction of electricity and fuel required for the operation of the sole power plant and for back-up generators deepens the already existing deterioration of life and health for the people of Gaza.  The electrical shortage threatens all aspects of public health infrastructure. Due to power shortages, water desalination plants are running at 15% of capacity, the typical family in Gaza receives running water for an average of 12 hours per week. According to the World Health Organization, over 90% of that water is not safe for drinking or cooking. Due to lack of power to sewage treatment facilities, over 108 million liters of untreated waste is piped into the Mediterranean Sea every day and the risk of raw sewage backup into living areas is great.

Under the current power and fuel cuts, the people of Gaza have about three to six hours of electricity per day—coming at totally unpredictable times. This affects every aspect of life and well being.

Hospitals and medical facilities, operating largely on back up generators are facing an imminent lack of fuel to enable these machines to continue functioning.  Vital health services such as all but the most critical surgeries and emergency services have been cancelled. Sanitation and sterilization of equipment has been cut back, patients are being discharged prematurely from hospitals, essential machinery such as neonatal incubators, ventilators, imaging and dialysis machines that depend on a constant flow of power are breaking down as a result of frequent, intermittent power outages.

This current situation compounds the deterioration of the Gaza health care system that comes as a result of the long years of active policies of de-development and siege that has curtailed the import of essential medications (including such things as chemotherapy and other cancer treatments) and of equipment and parts to repair medical and hospital machinery.  In each of the major wars on Gaza, medical facilities were targeted by the Israeli military. The siege also greatly restricts travel by patients for lifesaving and specialized care not available in Gaza. The restrictions on travel by Gaza health professions results in their isolation and gaps in training and consultation.

The situation is critical now. On June 1, 2017, Al-Jazeera reported the following:

“At al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, 50 babies lie crowded in 30 beds in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Outside, the yard resembles a factory as massive generators roar and hum, turning fuel into electricity, supplying the babies with oxygen through ventilators.

Due to the electricity shortage in Gaza, the generators are the only lifeline for these newborn babies, but even this may be cut soon as Gaza’s fuel reserves are expected to be depleted in a month, placing patients’ lives at risk.

“Most of the babies are connected to mechanical ventilation. If the electricity is cut, most of these babies will die within a few seconds; we cannot support them,” said Dr Allam Abu Hamida, director of al-Shifa’s NICU.

As health workers, our professional ethics and core human values motivate us to act in demanding that the U.S. Government use its leverage with Israel to end the Gaza Blockade and assure that electricity, water and health services are fully and adequately provided.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 8, 2018

Contact: Elizabeth Berger MD (215) 740 3090 bergerusapalmhn@gmail.com

Alice Rothchild MD (617) 512 3249 contact.alicerothchild@gmail.com

Doctors urge mental health group not to meet in Israel

International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) urged to reconsider international meetings in Israel in 2019

Add Your Name Here.

American mental health clinicians and renowned psychiatrist Samah Jabr call on the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) to reconsider its decision to hold its 2019 international meeting in Israel due to Israel’s long-standing human rights violations and the current escalation of attacks on the Palestinian people following President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The clinicians cite the inappropriateness of Israel as the host because of Israel’s state policies of land seizures, restriction of freedom of movement, control over natural resources, extrajudicial assassination and the torture of Palestinian children.   They assert that as mental health workers familiar with the impact of violence on the well-being of children, families and communities, and dedication to humanitarian values, they have “an added responsibility to make our voices heard.”

The letter to the Board of IARPP states that locating international conferences (especially for a profession associated with individual and public health) in Israel represents a tacit acceptance of such Israeli state policies  and normalizes current policies regarding Palestinians in the occupied territories.  The letter goes on to note “It is particularly ironic and painful to see Israel chosen as the site of an international conference when the central theme of the particular organization is the in-depth understanding of human relationships.” By holding the conference in Israel it glosses over the behavior of the State of Israel towards its occupied population and the nearly two million Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.   “To object to the choice of Israel as the location of international conferences is a way of bringing the conduct of the state of Israel into the foreground as a subject of discussion and debate, so that the extent of the dispossession and suffering of the Palestinian people can be acknowledged.”

  • Clinicians are urged to sign the petition that will be sent to the IARPP. Sign here.

  • More on the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy here: http://iarpp.net/
  • Read the full letter to the IARPP Board here:

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/letter.pdf

About The USA Palestine Mental Health Network:

The network of American mental health professionals aims to make known the impact of the Israeli occupation of Palestine on the mental health and well being of both Palestinians and Israelis.   USA PalMHN is a sibling organization of the well established UK Palestine Mental Health Network.

For more information please visit:  https://ukpalmhn.com/usa-palestine-mental-health-network/usa-about-us/    or   https://ukpalmhn.com/

About the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council:

A network of JVP members who work in the field of health and use equity and social justice as the lens through which to view the conditions of populations living under occupation and blockade. The work is guided by the World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as well as by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information please visit: https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/jvp-health-advisory-council/#mission

###

 

The USA Palestine Mental Health Network and the UK Palestine Mental Health Network are co-sponsoring a trip in the spring of 2018 for mental health workers.

From March 25th – April 3rd, learn about:

  • life today for the Palestinians living under a brutal military occupation
  • trauma within families and how it affects women and children
  • violence against children, including imprisonment
  • perspectives from our Palestinian and Israeli counterparts

This ten-day tour follows the success of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network’s study tours in 2016 and 2017.

The aim is to develop close links of equality and solidarity with Palestinian mental health professionals to ensure that the work of the USA and UK Networks reflect their experiences and priorities.

During the 2018 mental health study tour, participants will have unique opportunities to meet with their colleagues and other key organisations and institutions that focus on Palestinian heritage, dignity, and culture. Participants will be provided with analysis about the political realities created by Israeli government policies and how they affect Palestinians who live in the occupied territory as well as within the state of Israel. A broad range of perspectives is gained, with the focus on the agencies of peace in both societies grounded in universal human rights and international law.

Tour participants will also hear stories from local people who share their experiences, hopes and aspirations for the future.

The tour is being facilitated by a small UK company with nearly twenty years of experience in providing alternative tours to the Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT) and Israel. Hotels used will be in Bethlehem and Nazareth and field trips will extend into the surrounding areas such as Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus, Jaffa/Tel Aviv and Haifa.  Visiting the different geographical regions of the deserts, plains, mountains, and the Mediterranean coast add additional interest to the tour itinerary. Travel will be in a private comfortable coach with an expert local driver from a licensed bus company.  The group will be kept to a maximum of 18 participants and debriefing sessions will be held most evenings.

The cost of $1400 per person includes the full tour program staying at three-star hotels with half-board (bed, breakfast and evening meal), sharing a twin-bedded room with ensuite facilities, guidance from the tour leader, other day-guides and tips.

Flights, lunches and travel insurance is not included. The cost for those requiring single room accommodation is $1700. The tour price includes a non-refundable registration fee of $300.

All interested applicants should be in good health and able to climb steps and walk over rough terrain. An application form must be completed and a reference will be obtained. When places are confirmed, participants are given a detailed information pack which covers all aspects of the tour including the itinerary.  Personal assistance is available to answer any questions and to help participants make the most of this unique opportunity.

As places are limited, don’t delay. We invite those in the US and North America, Central America, and South America to contact uspalmhn@gmail.com  for an application form.

Those elsewhere internationally are invited to contact ukpalmhn@gmail.com 

“Thank you for an extraordinary and valuable experience. There is no other way I could have got access to such a range of people and organisations or seen so much in such a short period of time. I highly recommend this tour for anyone who is interested in knowing the facts behind the political rhetoric.”                                                                                                                                        S Farrant, spring 2017

 “The tour provided a superb mix of in-depth encounters with mental health practitioners and overviews of the political and social conditions within which mental health services operate and – without which it would be impossible to understand their dilemmas, struggles and triumphs.”              

G Daniel, spring 2016

 

  •  PRESS RELEASE: Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

September 27, 2017

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Six Gaza cancer patients die after being denied access to treatment 

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is deeply concerned that five female cancer patients died in August after being prevented from attending hospital appointments outside of Gaza.  According to MAP’s information, the deaths of at least five such patients in one month is the highest number of monthly fatalities on record. MAP knows of one further cancer patient death since then. The charity has information on 30 people dying already this year after being prevented from attending treatment outside of Gaza – indicating that 2017 will be the worst year on record. Fourteen of the deaths were of cancer patients.

Denying women access to potentially life-saving treatment is indefensible”, said Aimee Shalan, CEO of MAP, “and underlines both the severity of the humanitarian emergency in Gaza and the urgent need for man-made barriers to accessing healthcare to be lifted.” [This link includes a petition you could sign]

According to the monthly Gaza healthcare access report of the World Health Organization, the five women who died in August were aged between 26 and 53 years old. Two of the women suffered from colon cancer, one from ovarian cancer, one from breast cancer and one from a rare cancer known as a primitive neuroectodermal tumour.

Since August, a 53-year-old woman with breast cancer- who attended a MAP-supported health centre- also died after she was prevented from accessing treatment outside Gaza. There are very likely additional deaths not recorded by the WHO or MAP.

MAP has persistently highlighted barriers to healthcare in Gaza and across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for Palestinian patients in general and for cancer patients in particular.It has documented how challenges posed by restrictions on the right to movement for patients and doctors, shortages of essential medicines, and the shortcomings of the health system in the oPt all constitute obstacles to continuous and effective treatment and care for Palestinian women with breast cancer.

This week, a MAP-supported multi-disciplinary breast cancer care team is in Gaza and the West Bank undertaking surgeries, assessing current levels of care provision, and providing training. The specialist team includes surgeons, a clinical oncologist, a radiologist, a clinical nurse and a palliative care specialist.

The work of this fantastic breast cancer team is an important step towards strengthening the ability of the Palestinian healthcare system to improve treatment pathways and the lives of breast cancer patients, but it can only do so much” added Aimee Shalan. “Israel as the occupying power and all other duty-bearers must remove barriers to accessing medical treatment. As these tragic deaths emphasise, this should begin with ending the decade-long blockade and closure of Gaza.”

The six women cancer patients known to have died after being prevented from accessing treatment outside of Gaza are Faten Ahmed, Kaenat Jaa’rur, Nadia Hamad, Itimad Rabi’e, Muna al-Aila and Ibtesam Nabhan.

MAP encourages the UK and other governments to demand an end to Israel’s closure and blockade of Gaza, deemed “collective punishment” by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. MAP also encourages the UK and others to support the long-term development of human resources and infrastructure of the Palestinian healthcare system in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Press contacts:

Neil Sammonds, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Medical Aid for Palestinians

E: neil.sammonds@map.org.uk // T: 0207 288 7342

For more information on barriers to access to healthcare in the occupied Palestinian territory:

https://www.map.org.uk/downloads/health-under-occupation-vol-1—access-to-healthcare.pdf

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  • Important analysis by Dr. Mads Gilbert

Is “Palestine” the target of an academic boycott in major US medical journals? Publication patterns on occupied Palestine in four key medical journals 1990-2016

Mads Gilbert, MD PhD
Clinic of Emergency Medicine, University Hospital of North Norway and Institute of Clinical Medicine, Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway. Mail: mads.gilbert@gmail.com

Background
Political influence on public and individual health and health care delivery are key to the manmade preconditions for human rights and development – or destruction – of ‘the human condition’. A deeper understanding of social determinants of health (water, food, human security, sanitation, work, shelter, human rights etc.) is the responsibility of health workers, researchers and editors of medical journals and politicians. These factors lie beyond traditional curative medicine, but still determine inequalities and negative developments of population health. Discussions of ‘political determinants of health’ for Palestinians seems irrelevant or out of bounds for leading medical
journals. The current crisis in Syria is frequently described, and the suffering of civilians, attacks on health care and violent breeches of key international and humanitarian laws are discussed and condemned. Violations of the immunity of health care in Syria are rightly condemned by leading medical journals. This study used relevant key words to explore if similar questions pertinent to
Occupied Palestine territories (oPt) and Palestinian healthcare is a ‘no-go-zone’ for four major US and European medical journals.

Method
Searches were conducted in four major medical journals’ for occurrences of the keywords ‘Gaza’, ‘West Bank’ or the stem ‘Palestin*’ and ‘Israel*’ for the period January 1990 to September 2016, using each journal’s search engine. This study examined the four highest-ranked, peer-reviewed international medical journals: The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The New
England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), The Lancet (Lancet) and The British Medical Journal (BMJ). Searches were conducted September 2016.

Interpretation
This study based on key word-searches shows a significant disparity of editorial attention and publication policies on the situation in occupied Palestine and the medical conditions for the Palestinian people. The two European based journals have published significantly more, engaged in
discourses and discussed responsibilities for the dire health condition of the vulnerable Palestinian populations. The US-based journals have published next to nothing on the same critical issues. The medical conditions and deterioration in health care in oPt is currently ignored if not actively
boycotted by the US journals studied. Unlike the situation in Syria, the medical situation in oPt represents longstanding violations of basic human rights and international laws with clear responsibilities on the governments of Israel and USA. The destructive, US-backed Israeli siege of Gaza’s two million inhabitants is in its 9th year and ongoing. The siege combined with repetitious,
disproportionate and indiscriminate military attacks on Gaza and health care infrastructure are the main reasons for the decay in public health and innumerable avoidable deaths.
The seemingly partisan silence of two top US medical journals in response to this Israeli destruction and dislocation of health services in Palestine is biased and unacceptable for scientific medical journals. Medical leaders, including journal editors, who remain inactive and silent, are ‘complicit in a
preventable tragedy that may have long-lasting public-health consequences not only for Gaza, but also for the entire region’, The Lancet stated in 2009 (Editorial, Jan 17, 2009)

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  • Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council Statement
    Impact of the 10 year Siege and the Electricity Crisis on Health in Gaza
    June 29, 2017

Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council issues this urgent statement to raise awareness and concern about the life-threatening and dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The situation has been made more critical in recent days by a 40% reduction of the already severely limited supply of electricity by Israel.  This catastrophic situation is largely the result of long and short term Israeli policies manipulated and exacerbated by the cynical power struggle between the leadership of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

June 2017 marks the ten year anniversary of the Israeli imposed siege on Gaza and the 50th year of the occupation of Palestinian lands. The two million people of Gaza have born the heaviest brunt of this political situation. Israel’s total control of the air, sea and land is responsible for devastating the economy, destroying the health, environmental, educational and social services network in Gaza. In a land flanked by the Mediterranean Sea, graced with fertile ground and a highly educated population, the political situation has left Gaza without adequate water, electricity and health services. Over 80% of the population is dependent on international aide for basic food supplies. Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world—at 44% overall and for young people coming out of the universities, it is as high as 60%.

The recent reduction of electricity and fuel required for the operation of the sole power plant and for back-up generators deepens the already existing deterioration of life and health for the people of Gaza.  The electrical shortage threatens all aspects of public health infrastructure. Due to power shortages, water desalination plants are running at 15% of capacity, the typical family in Gaza receives running water for an average of 12 hours per week. According to the World Health Organization, over 90% of that water is not safe for drinking or cooking. Due to lack of power to sewage treatment facilities, over 108 million liters of untreated waste is piped into the Mediterranean Sea every day and the risk of raw sewage backup into living areas is great.

Under the current power and fuel cuts, the people of Gaza have about three to six hours of electricity per day—coming at totally unpredictable times. This affects every aspect of life and well being.

Hospitals and medical facilities, operating largely on back up generators are facing an imminent lack of fuel to enable these machines to continue functioning.  Vital health services such as all but the most critical surgeries and emergency services have been cancelled. Sanitation and sterilization of equipment has been cut back, patients are being discharged prematurely from hospitals, essential machinery such as neonatal incubators, ventilators, imaging and dialysis machines that depend on a constant flow of power are breaking down as a result of frequent, intermittent power outages.

This current situation compounds the deterioration of the Gaza health care system that comes as a result of the long years of active policies of de-development and siege that has curtailed the import of essential medications (including such things as chemotherapy and other cancer treatments) and of equipment and parts to repair medical and hospital machinery.  In each of the major wars on Gaza, medical facilities were targeted by the Israeli military. The siege also greatly restricts travel by patients for lifesaving and specialized care not available in Gaza. The restrictions on travel by Gaza health professions results in their isolation and gaps in training and consultation.

The situation is critical now. On June 1, 2017, Al-Jazeera reported the following:

“At al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, 50 babies lie crowded in 30 beds in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Outside, the yard resembles a factory as massive generators roar and hum, turning fuel into electricity, supplying the babies with oxygen through ventilators.

Due to the electricity shortage in Gaza, the generators are the only lifeline for these newborn babies, but even this may be cut soon as Gaza’s fuel reserves are expected to be depleted in a month, placing patients’ lives at risk.

“Most of the babies are connected to mechanical ventilation. If the electricity is cut, most of these babies will die within a few seconds; we cannot support them,” said Dr Allam Abu Hamida, director of al-Shifa’s NICU.

As health workers, our professional ethics and core human values motivate us to act in demanding that the U.S. Government use its leverage with Israel to end the Gaza Blockade and assure that electricity, water and health services are fully and adequately provided.

Mission Statement

The Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC) is a network of JVP members who work in health, including physicians, nurses, mental health workers, social workers, public health workers, allied health professionals, complementary health practitioners, as well as others interested in human health. As equity and social justice are fundamental determinants of health, so health/mental health status can provide a lens through which to view the conditions of populations living under occupation and blockade. The work of the JVP-HAC is guided by the World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as well as by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We aim to advance JVP’s mission by bringing a specific focus on health, health care, and human rights to our work on Israel/Palestine, offering our perspective to both educate our co-workers and the general public, and to provide health-related avenues for activism.

What Does the Health Advisory Council Advocate?

We advocate for equal access to high-quality, affordable health care for all members of society in Israel/Palestine.

We call for an immediate end to Israeli policies that have had devastating consequences for Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. We call for an end to all barriers to movement of Palestinians seeking health services inside and outside the Occupied Territories, including restrictions on travel to facilities in Israel or to other countries for medical care; an end to all restrictions on import to Gaza and the West Bank of medicines, medical supplies and food; an end to restrictions on import of materials and equipment needed for repair and improvement of the water supply, sewage treatment facilities and other infrastructure critical to human health; and an end to restrictions on health workers from other countries entering Gaza and the West Bank to participate with local professionals in providing medical care and public health services to the Palestinian population.

We condemn the discriminatory treatment and abuse of Palestinians and other non-Jews living in Israel. We call for an end to the unequal distribution of public and private resources to these people and their communities, including health facilities, housing, education and social services.

We condemn the torture of Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli military, and seek to build an international campaign demanding that Israeli health workers and medical institutions end their complicity in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners.

Finally, we condemn Israeli military attacks affecting civilians as the ultimate assault on the health of the Palestinian population. Further, we demand an end to the Israel military’s use of cluster bombs and chemical weapons, the purpose of which is to maximize casualties and harm to human health; all forms of collective punishment, including the demolition of homes, hospitals and other health infrastructure; the targeting of health workers; and destruction of agricultural land, which devastates families and communities and deprives the population of basic nutrition.

We invite all JVP members and friends interested in conducting research, sharing information and/or contributing to campaigns focused on health and human rights in Israel/Palestine to join the Health Advisory Council. You can do so by filling out the form below and providing your contact and other information.

Welcome to the monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch.

Members of the Health Advisory Council volunteer to monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here.

These newsletters will be posted below and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact alicerothchild@gmail.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!

Presentations

November 25, 2018: Amy Alpert, CCC-SLP

I have been making trips to Israel/Palestine with the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund since 2014. They are an NGO that sends medical teams to the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and also sends children back to the US to receive medical care that they would not be able to receive where they are living. I am a Speech Pathologist and I am on a Maxillofacial Surgical Team. We provide assessment, surgery and treatment for children with cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies. When I am in the West Bank I also go to various clinics throughout the West Bank to provide therapy for difficult cases and train the speech therapists at those clinics. I have been to clinics in Jenin, Salfit, Tulkarem, Ramallah, Nablus, and Hebron. I train the therapists in cases of cleft palate, language and autism, cochlear implant, oral motor deficits, hearing loss,feeding and swallowing. In this way the therapists can continue to provide therapy to the best of their ability.  While traveling from city to city I have been able to meet and spend time with the people of the West Bank and experience first hand their difficulty in going from area to area to receive adequate medical care. Some people are denied permits to go to certain clinics and need to apply for permits from Israel. The people I have met are very resilient and despite their circumstances have been very welcoming and hospitable. I have made many friends there over the years. The team I work with are very special doctors and nurses. This team is made up of doctors from countries all over the world, such as Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica, US, Japan and Palestine. Prior to joining PCRF I had been on Health and Human rights delegations in 2013 and 2014. This was the start of my interest in this area of the world.  I am Jewish,  and I became upset, angry and ashamed learning what the Israeli’s are imposing on the Palestinian people.
There have been several times when leaving the mission at  checkpoints and Ben Gurion Airport I have been asked “why here?” “Why here?” “Why do you come here?” My response is the truth and always the same: “Speech Pathologists go to South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa to work with people who do not receive the care, but no one comes here, and so I do.” The people of the West Bank are in need of greater access to the health care they deserve.
In solidarity,
Amy Alpert CCC-SLP

 

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April 3, 2018: Professor Giacaman gave a webinar entitled: Reframing Health and War: An Update from Occupied Palestine, moderated by Dr. Alice Rothchild.

Listen to the recording here, also available in the JVP webinar library.
Rita references her professional website where her data is published for open use, focused on moving beyond the biomedical model and developing measures of suffering, humiliation, individual and collective violation, dignity, distress, and insecurity.  She argues that people live on a continuum of dis-ease and ease and their health is deeply affected by their emotional experiences and the political determinants of health, as well as class and patriarchy. www.icph.birzeit.edu publications
Her analysis is available: Reframing Public Health in War Time: From the Biomedical Model to the “Wounds Inside”
Journal of Palestine Studies Vol. XLVII, No. 2 (Winter 2018), p. 9, ISSN: 0377-919X; electronic ISSN: 1533-8614. © 2018 by the Institute for Palestine Studies. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p=reprints. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2018.47.2.9.
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The impact of occupation and siege on health and human rights in the OPT
JVP Health Advisory Council

Our Publications

Report on Community Health Worker program, al-Aida and al-Azza refugee camps
S. Komarovsky,  JVP Health Advisory Council
July 2018

al-Aida and al-Azza refugee camps in Bethlehem are two of the oldest refugee camps in the world. They began in 1950, and currently house about 7,500 individuals from 27 different villages. The camps were hit particularly hard by violence and suppression during the second intifada, which the communities still feel the effects of today. Health 4 Palestine’s Community Health Worker (CHW) program was developed after the findings of a focus group conducted in the camps concerning health, healthcare, and barriers to receiving care in early 2018. The focus groups found that the community’s major concerns for health were diabetes, hypertension, COPD/asthma, depression, and cancer – the major causes of mortality and morbidity in the region. Access to care for these non-communicable diseases was found to have a complicated web of barriers. The occupation of the West Bank, widespread poverty, distrust in the health systems and its providers, trauma, and lack of individual agency were found to obstruct access to adequate care. Poverty, psychological trauma, and unemployment are high due to the occupation and corruption within the Palestinian Authority. The health systems accessible to the camp are disjointed – the only UNRWA dedicated clinic in the area is 4.5 km away, which users describe as inadequate care with regular stock outs of essential medicines. Ministry of Health clinics are viewed as slightly better, though this creates financial barriers. Instead, many utilize both clinics in spite of the lack of integrated information systems between them. Many patients end up with conflicting diagnosis and treatments, often with issues of polypharmacy.

The CHW pilot program began in March of 2018, utilizing social accompaniment and social medicine models of health and health care. The pilot began with 6 CHWs (3 teams of 2) from the camps who were trained in testing and treatment for diabetes and hypertension, as well as social support and coaching on facilitating behavioral changes. The Lajee Center, a community center in al-Aida, houses the project. An international team consisting of doctors, activists, and CHWs from Harvard, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Boston University lend expertise and oversight in helping to steer the project. The hope was that by engaging individuals around two of the most prominent noncommunicable diseases, with straight forward treatment recommendations, the CHWs would begin to develop community agency and support for health and self-determination within the camp.

The program, which began in April, has recorded unbelievable success. Their caseload grew from 10 to 60, a direct result of the need, desire, and excitement for this project. CHWs were being sought out by members in the community for medical support on the streets. Many of their patients have begun to adhere to their medication prescriptions, have changed their diets, reduced smoking, and have sought treatment for other ailments due to their referrals and support. One family I witnessed saw a man with diabetes and high blood pressure drop from 90 kilos to 60 kilos, reduce smoking from 4 packs to 1 pack a day, and is figuring out a medication routine that works. The woman of the house’s blood sugar level has changed from poorly controlled diabetes (of 15 years) to under good control. They have developed medication charts, helped with medical translations in the clinic, and have, as I saw in one home, “brought good fortune” with a phone call from a participant’s son from administrative detention.

CHWs are not a new idea, though within the context of the occupation this program is unique. The ailments that patients describe are a direct result of the occupation – the high cost for fresh produce, stress from living under military rule (“Why do I have hypertension? Five of my six sons are in prison! One of them was released last week”), and a disjointed political health system that does as little as possible for refugees. The goals of the program are both to scale the project up (first to train more within al-Aida/Azza, then to other Palestinian refugee camps) and for the organizing for advocacy. By developing a program around health and self-determination within the camp, there is hope of generating a community base to help begin a new wave of resistance within the camp – run by those most affected by the occupation and consolidating collective power through the effects on their community’s health.

You can find more information at the project’s website:  www.health4palestine.org. If you are interested in supporting the project by any means, please contact health@jvp.org.

CHWs, managers, and international partners work to develop plans for care at a participant’s home.


The Aida an international team participated in the Social Medicine Conference at Berzeit University in the Summer of 2018. Ramallah, West Bank.


Two of the CHWs advocating for their program at the Social Medicine Conference at Berzeit University in the Summer of 2018. Ramallah, West Bank.

 

Pressure mounts over psychoanalysts 2019 conference, slated for Tel Aviv 
Mondoweiss, March 13, 2018

A plea for Ahed Tamimi’s protection
Mondoweiss, February 19, 2018

Israeli paper’s publication of BDS ad marks beginning of society’s return to sanity
Mondoweiss, February 2, 2018

Naked Justice
Mondoweiss, January 27, 2018

Healing Through Human Rights Advocacy and Recreational Activities,
Facebook: Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Tel Rumeida, July 22, 2017

A not so slow genocide
The Globe Post, July 11, 2105

Radiation and ringworm: A tale of social policy, racism, and health care
Mondoweiss, July 9, 2017

JVP call for US gov’t to pressure Israel to ‘end dire humanitarian crisis’ in Gaza
Mondoweiss, June 29, 2017

Fateful Decisions
AlJazeera media project – Palestine in Motion, 2017

Between Life and Death: The Propaganda of anti-BDS Campaigns
Palestine Square, May 30, 2017

HAC letter submitted to The Lancet in response to the series “Health in Israel”
May 21, 2017

Don’t Force-Feed Palestinian Hunger Strikers
The Forward, May 9, 2017

DAPL HAC Statement
December 12, 2016

Statement on Nov. 16 Raids on HDIP Office
December, 2016

Other Publications

 

War Crimes and Open Wounds: The Physician who took on Israeli segregation+972 blog, September 12, 2017

Patient flow, triage, and mortality in Al-Shifa Hospital during the Israeli operation Protective Edge, 2014 in the Gaza Strip: A review of hospital record dataLancet, 2017

Severe amputation injuries after Israeli military operations in Gaza: a retrospective, followup clinical studyLancet, August 2017

Bitter Palestinian Rivalry Adds to the Agony of Gaza’s VulnerableThe Guardian, July 22, 2017

First Death Caused by Sea Pollution in GazaPalestine Square, August 16, 2017

2014 and 2015 abstracts accepted and presented in the 5th and 6th Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance Conferences in Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon.

A cross sectional study of the relationship between the exposure of pregnant women to military attacks in 2014 in Gaza and the load of heavy metal contaminants in the hair of mothers and newborns
British Medical Journal, Vol 7, Issue 7, August 2017

Gaza is Headed for a Deeper Political and Humanitarian Crisis, 
Al Shabaka, July 13, 2017

Israel Shuts Down Beaches Polluted by Besieged Gaza Strip – Ma’an News Agency
July 8, 2017

Gaza Ten Years Later – UN Report
July, 2017

Caring for health in occupied Palestinian territory 
Lancet, July 8, 2017

Two articles about the disappearance of Yemenite babies
Knesset Inquiry Reveals Yemenite Babies Murdered in Medical Experiments, Abducted from Parents, and Exploited in Paid National Institutes of Health Experiments

Israel’s national wound that cannot heal
June, 2017

The campaign about doctors and torture in Israel five years on
December 14, 2016

HUMAN RIGHTS HERO/HEROINE OF THE WEEK:  

December 10, 2018: Ongoing Palestinian non-violent resistance: The Great March of Return
This past Friday, Dec. 7 marks the 37th weekly protest, “The Great March of Return”. 33 Palestinians were injured this week.  Despite the brutal reactions by the Israeli military that have resulted in the deaths of over 200 Palestinians (mostly by live ammunition fired by Israeli military “sharp-shooters”), and severely wounded over 18,000, the Great March continues with weekly protests at the Gaza fence. The Great March of Return is an on-going non-violent, non-centralized protest by the people of Gaza to demand the right of refugees to return to their homeland and to demand an end to the devastating siege on Gaza. We honor all who, in this dignified and compelling way, stand for these basic human rights.
As a note: Al Jazeera News published a recent summary of the deaths and injuries occurring in the Great March.

December 3, 2018: The faculty of Pitzer College.
The faculty in Southern California, on November 8 voted 4-to-1 to suspend the school’s study abroad program at Haifa University in Israel,“until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities.” Such study abroad programs are part of an Israeli propaganda effort “designed to give international students a ‘positive experience’ of Israel, whitewashing its occupation and denial of Palestinian rights,” according to PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The faculty also voted to condemn the school’s trustees for opposing a student government resolution to divest from five companies as part of the movement to boycott Israel.

https://www.jta.org/2018/11/27/news-opinion/california-colleges-faculty-suspends-study-abroad-israel
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/california-faculty-vote-suspend-israel-study-abroad-program
https://claremontindependent.com/pitzer-faculty-votes-end-israel-study-abroad/

November 18, 2018: Ilhan Omar, for her stand on Palestinian human rights, support of BDS, and stands for universal social justice.November 26, 2018: The students and teachers of the Qurtuba Elementary Mixed School in Hebron.
The students and teachers were stopped at the al-Shuhada Street checkpoint in the center of Hebron. They refused to have their photographs taken at the checkpoint and Israeli forces prevented them from entering school. The teachers and students persevered and after an hour they were let through to enter their school. The teachers and students refused to give in to the demands of the Israeli forces.
http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=781780

Congressperson-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) repeated her clear message of support for Palestinian human rights last week. Omar said, “…that her faith has guided her to be a better person and fight for justice and the rights of others, saying that she fights for humanity as a whole.  ‘I don’t really pay attention to the stuff people say I am, because what I know is I am a fighter for human rights, and I am a fighter for justice, and I am someone who fights for everybody’s humanity to be uplifted, and for everyone to have a fair shake in life,’ she continued.
The people in my district and the folks that I represent who have ties to that region understand how necessary it is for us to advocate, and not abdicate because it is politically expedient; but advocate because we know right from wrong.”
Ilhan Omar, as a Muslim, a woman, a refugee (from Somalia, which is one of the nations listed in the Travel Ban), and an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights has faced hateful Islamophobic postings, smear campaigns and messages. The JVP HAC stands with Ilhan Omar in joy at her election victory and, we will “have her back” as she is an advocate for human rights, we will also be vigilant that her human rights and dignity are upheld. 

November 12, 2018: The anti-Zionist Israelis who joined Gaza’s Great March of Return.
Since Hamas’ seizure of power in 2007, the Gaza Strip (with a population of 1.85 million Palestinians living in an area about one-tenth the size of Rhode Island) has been under a blockade and siege by Israel (and Egypt) in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment. The consequences of the blockade have been severe:  Gaza’s unemployment rate is 42%, with over 60% youth unemployment. Eighty percent of Gazans are forced to rely on humanitarian aid to survive, while 47% suffer from food insecurity. The number of Palestinian refugees in Gaza who rely on food distribution from the UN has increased from approximately 80,000 in 2000 to almost one million today. Nearly 60% of Gaza’s preschool children suffer from nutritional anemia. Ninety percent of Gaza’s water supply is contaminated and undrinkable due largely to the effects of Israel’s blockade and repeated bombings of Gaza’s infrastructure. Currently, Gazans only receive 2 to 3 hours of electricity a day. In 2015, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development warned that Gaza could become “uninhabitable” by 2020 as a result of Israel’s blockade and destruction of civilian infrastructure.   On 30 March 2018, the “Great March of Return” began: a campaign of protests at the Gaza-Israel border, demanding that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel, and protesting the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the moving of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Organization of the protests was initiated by independent activists, and has been endorsed and supported by major factions in the Gaza Strip.
On 26 October 2018, a group of 50 Anti-Zionist Israelis joined the Great March of Return from the eastern side of the fence that isolates the Gaza Strip. The group, called Return, raised Palestinian flags that could be seen by the Palestinian protesters and chanted calling for the Right of Return. A phone conversation took place between the protesters and Dr. Haidar Eid, a BDS activist protesting to the west of the fence. “One day we will cross the fence and you will be able to join us, and we will join you”, promised Eid. During the demonstration the protesters witnessed the use of lethal and excessive force by the occupation forces.
https://mondoweiss.net/2018/10/apartheid-zionist-israelis

November 5, 2018: NYU student senators.
NYU student senators introduced a resolution for university divestment from companies
violating Palestinian Human Rights, such as Caterpillar Inc, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric. It calls on the university to implement a socially responsible investment model that ensures investments uphold human rights for all. The resolution is supported by 53 student groups including the Black Student Union; Mosaic, The Interfaith Students of Color Coalition, NYU College Libertarians, The Muslim Student Association, and NYU Young Democratic Socialists of America as well as 34 faculty endorsements. The resolution will be voted on at the December 6th meeting of the Student Government Assembly.Thank goodness for the activism of our young people.
https://mondoweiss.net/2018/11/resolution-university-palestinian/?

October 29, 2018:

Preface–The JVP HAC pauses for a moment in the publication of this week’s Human Rights Hero and Violation in reflection of the moment we are in. We are heartbroken and we mourn the unspeakably horrible attack and murders yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our most sincere condolences go to the families, friends and community that was shattered by this horror. We hold each of you in love as you grieve, and with tenderness as you find some healing. We also hold the grief and outrage at the racially motivated murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones in Kentucky.  May the memory of each person who lost their life be a blessing.

Also, this week, we watched the unraveling of a plot to send bombs to a number of political figures and the media who have been critical of the current Administration. Thank goodness there were no injuries from these devises, but they were real and they were horrific. And, the meanness, racism, violence and destructiveness of all of these events is the result of an emboldening rhetoric and policies from the top levels of our government. The hollow words from the Administration following the incidents show no understanding of the root cause and how their  complicity in these acts of violence. We call that out.
The JVP HAC, speaking from our health lens, absolutely rejects the notion that anyone is safer when there are armed guards at the doors of schools, places of worship, public spaces–anywhere. Gun violence is a major public health threat to our nation. The solution: Sensible laws that limit the availability of firearms.
We see parallels in the rhetoric and policies in the Israeli government. Certain lives are simply less valuable than others. A true introspection at the top of how the lethal policies of violence and discrimination fuel individual acts of horror does not exist–not among our leaders here and not in Israel. A military that bombs civilians with total impunity or regard for International standards (in Israel’s case) and/or that contributes to such actions (as in the case of the U.S. with regard to Israel and Saudi Arabia) is the systemic manifestation of this disregard for life.
Bombs and bullets will not cease in our work for justice–from Central America, to Saudi Arabia, to Palestine-Israel, to Pittsburgh, and all our beautiful places in between, we call out violations of human rights and we lift up the heroes whose spirits and sheer determination will not be stopped.
The villagers of Khan al-Ahmar
The opening and closing paragraphs of this inspiring essay (The Bedouins of al-Khan al-Ahmar halt the bulldozers of Israel) in the NY Review of Books frames the Human Rights heroes of this week–the ongoing resistance to the demolition of the village of Khan al-Ahmar, forced relocation of the residents and confiscation of their land:
“Something extraordinary has happened this week at the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, on the eastern outskirts of Jerusalem and adjacent to the main road going south toward Jericho and the Dead Sea. First, there is the remarkable fact that the village still exists—after months of waiting, day by day, for the bulldozers of the Israeli army to arrive to demolish it. But even more astonishing is the fact that, for several days, over a hundred activists—Palestinians, Israelis, and a few internationals—faced the heavily armed soldiers and the riot police, not known for their gentle ways, and triumphed, at least for the moment.”
 
“Predictably, Netanyahu has reaffirmed his commitment to the ultimate destruction of al-Khan al-Ahmar. But already it can be said that a small group of unarmed, ordinary human beings, appalled by the injustice about to be inflicted upon innocents and prepared to face reckless violence without flinching, have achieved a moral victory that cannot be measured in purely instrumental terms. Even a transient victory of this kind has meaning and gives reason for hope. Perhaps al-Khan al-Ahmar will be remembered as the place where the Israeli descent into self-destructive savagery was checked, at least for a crucial moment. More battles lie ahead.”
Just as a reminder (should you want references to the 4th Geneva Convention easily at hand), international law prohibits the removal of the indigenous population from their land and the settling of the land by the occupying force (see here and here). 
 
The JVP HAC lifts up the non-violent, creative and mighty resistance happening at Khan al-Ahmar and urges all to contact their elected officials to demand that Israel withdraw all plans to confiscate the village. 

October 21, 2018: Kamel Hawwash organizing for Palestinian rights, despite push back from Israeli and US authorities.
Dear readers, we have decided to withdraw Lara Alqasem as our human rights hero of the week. Initially, she was chosen because we wanted to highlight Israel’s policy of refusing entry to people who have been active in the BDS movement. However, her reported rejection of BDS, we feel, makes her less deserving of recognition as a human rights hero. Instead, we offer another who confronted the discrimination meted out to BDS supporters traveling to Israel.
Kamel Hawwash, a British citizen of Palestinian origin, professor of engineering at the University of Birmingham, and vice chair of the UK’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was denied entry to Israel at Tel Aviv airport in April 2017, one month after Israel passed the “BDS law”, which allowed it to deny entry to those engaged in the BDS movement. Hawwash contacted the British embassy in Tel Aviv and the foreign office in London, and was told that this was a sovereign decision for Israel – which meant that Britain did not even acknowledge that Israel has no sovereignty over the occupied Palestinian Territories. This experience has been shared by many others attempting to enter Israel, including Rabbi Alissa Wise of JVP and Ariel Gold, co-director of Code Pink.
In August 2018, Hawwash was prevented from boarding a US-bound flight from the UK, to celebrate Eid Al-Adha with relatives. This had never happened on prior trips to the US. US authorities have thus far refused to provide an explanation. He then wrote to the US ambassador in London and was told that he would be required to present a non-immigrant visa to be admitted. He writes, “It is safe to assume that Israeli authorities have supplied U.S. authorities with names of individuals like myself who have been denied entry because of their advocacy for the Palestinian people. However, for the US to then deny them entry based on this peaceful work is very troubling.” He continues to organize and campaign for Palestinian rights – and the rights of critics of Israel/US policy toward Palestine.

October 15, 2018: The Palestinian people who have converted St. Georges Monastery in Gaza into a learning and recreational resource for Gaza’s children focusing on reading and other cultural classes to address trauma being experienced within everyday life.
Nawa, a cultural group in Deir al-Balah, the city where the monastery is located, resolved to preserve the 1700 year old monastery and ensure it is of benefit to the local community, in cooperation with UNESCO. Between 150 and 180 children visit the library each day. This past summer, the library ran courses on calligraphy and creative writing, as well as a club where participants can discuss a book they have read. Literacy classes for parents have been held, too. Despite its focus on Palestinian literature, the library also has a collection of books by Western authors.
https://electronicintifada.net/content/beating-stress-stories/25696

October 8. 2018: Ministry of Health launches first naval paramedic team.
Honoring the team of paramedics from Gaza who are protecting Great March of Return protesters at sea and on the beach of Gaza.
Ma’an News reported that a group of paramedics will be joining the 11th naval march (leaving from the beach in the northern Gaza Strip)  to attempt to break the siege of Gaza. For the first time, Paramedics will sail with boats in order to protect non-violent protesters who will sail to break the Israeli siege of of Gaza.

Despite the absolutely overwhelmed conditions of the health sector in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qidra, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Health said that “…this new step shows the dedication of the medical teams and their ability to achieve all means to secure the lives of peaceful protesters in the naval march.”

October 1, 2018: Jasbir Puar, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.
Professor Puar  was awarded the National Women’s Studies Association’s Alison Piepmeier Book Prize for “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability”, in which she writes “a complementary logic long present in Israeli tactical calculations of settler colonial rule” is “that of creating injury and maintaining Palestinian populations as perpetually debilitated, and yet alive, in order to control them”.

September 24, 2018: Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund.
Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund is building cancer departments, ensuring a high level of care for ourchildren fighting this terrible disease in hashtag#Palestinehashtag#PCRF and Gaza. PCRF provides care and tutors during stays in the hospital to ensure that children don’t have to repeat their school year when their treatment is finished.
www.PCRF.net

September 17, 2018: Things are bleak, so the JVP HAC will recognize two Human Rights heroes this week!

Hilel Garmi, an Israeli Conscientious Objector who spent Rosh Hashanah in Israeli military prison.
Garmi, age 18, from a kibbutz in Northern Israel, is currently spending 10 days in a military prison in the third of his prison terms–totaling 37 days in prison. Garmi stated that his own “red line” was crossed as he continued to learn about Israeli policy and actions in the occupation. He stated he was inspired by the philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience of Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the lead organizers of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Hilel Garmi has refused to serve in the Israeli military. The video in this article is of Hilel Garmi, in his own words, speaking of what it means to resist when one feels morally compelled to do so. Very powerful.
Hilel Garmi said in a statement, ” I know I will be proud of this decision for the rest of my life, knowing that in the moment of truth, I was loyal to my beliefs, and did the only thing that seems moral to me. The way I see it, I chose to be on the right side of history.” 
Wafiah Barghouti, the 75 year old mother of renowned BDS organizer Omar Barghouti, passed away this week in Amman, Jordan. 
The JVP Health Advisory Council remembers Wafiah Barghouti, a feminist and a fighter for social justice. BDS South Africa published Omar Barghouti’s beautiful eulogy to his mother. In that statement he wrote, ” Today, I experienced a personal Nakba (catastrophe). I am rarely broken, but today I am….[my mother was] a feminist, an avid reader of literature and politics, an incredible cook, an unwavering supporter of popular struggles the world over against all forms of injustice, a moderate addict of Facebook (much less so of Twitter), a fan of the BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace (US), a cleanliness freak, and an exceptional care giver with the biggest heart possible. That heart stopped today, for the last time.”  
We send condolences to the Barghouti family and to all Palestinians who have lost a champion for justice and rights. We grieve and protest that Omar Barghouti continues to be on a travel ban imposed by the Israeli military. As he was prohibited from traveling to Jordan to be with his mother during her cancer surgery earlier this year, he may also be denied permission to attend her funeral. 
May her memory be a blessing. 

September 10, 2018: Our hero, Paraguay, moving its embassy back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem.
Paraguay to Move Embassy Back to Tel Aviv From Jerusalem; Israel Retaliates – Shuts Embassy
Israel to close embassy, recall ambassador for consultations ■ Palestinians say they pushed Paraguay to relocate embassy ■ Paraguay was third country to move its embassy, following U.S. and Guatemala.

“Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Luis Alberto Castiglioni said. Israel will close its embassy in Paraguay and recall its ambassador for consultations following the announcement, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

September 2, 2018: Once again, the JVP HAC lifts up the health workers in Gaza who are working tirelessly and heroically to provide care for the beleaguered population of 2 million people.  

“I believe in the saying, he who saves a life, saves all humanity,” said 43-year-old Muhammad al-Hissi, a paramedic with two decades of experience.
 
Medics are always on duty at the front lines of the Great March of Return reported the Electronic Intifada
And ancillary to the heroism of the medical personnel in Gaza, here in a video from Mondoweiss is but one example of the critical and overwhelming issues the Gaza medical system is struggling with–the lack of medications and supplies to offer cancer treatment. 
UNRWA clinical health staff, 99% of them refugees themselves, provide care in clinics throughout Palestine and to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. 
 
Along with doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, first responders, ancillary health workers from other organizations, we lift up the voices such as that of Palestinian medic, Adel al-Masharawi who stated,  “We are part of the Palestinian struggle…It is our duty to work and save lives whatever their injuries and where they may be.”  

August 27, 2018: Government of Japan for its proposed $5.4 donation to UNRWA
Maan News reported today (8/27) that the Japanese government plans to make an emergency donation of these funds to UNRWA–particularly to backfill the cutback in UNRWA aid by the United States government.
Japan has been a leading supporter of UNRWA. In March that government donated over $23 million to the relief agency.
The JVP HAC hails the Japanese government for realizing that using political maneuvering as blackmail for humanitarian aid is not diplomacy and violates the human rights of the most vulnerable civilians.

August 19, 2018: Israeli government use of health and health care as a weapon of war. (this serious human rights violation comes in conjunction with a statement by the JVP Health Advisory Council – see under Urgent Statements August 21, 2018).
Whether through denying entry of many essential medications and medical equipment/technology used for serious medical conditions including cancer treatment or the denial of exit visas for critically ill patients to receive care outside of the Gaza Strip, Israel is increasingly making it impossible for patients to get the life-saving care they need. Al Jazeera,The Palestine News Network,The Middle East Eye, and other sources report on the critical shortages of chemotherapeutic cancer treating medications. The following from a 8/15/18 report by Relief Web summarizes the situation for patients in Gaza.

“The Israeli authorities’ restrictions on the entry of medical supplies and equipment into Gaza within the context of closure, and on doctors traveling outside Gaza to pursue further medical training and specialization, means that Gaza’s hospitals are severely hindered in providing care. When treatment is unavailable in Gaza, patients are referred to Israel’s bureaucratic patient-permit system for care usually in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or Israel. Delays and denials by Israel of permit requests for patients to access hospitals outside of Gaza subject patients to extreme psychological stress and result in irregular or missed treatment. These restrictions run counter to international law obligations and should be lifted immediately in order for Gaza’s patients to receive timely access to adequate medical care.” 

Among those suffering from the chemotherapy shortage are about 460 children at Gaza’s al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in Gaza. In total over 8000 cancer patients in Gaza have had their treatment stopped due to medication shortages–largely due to the Israeli siege.

August 13, 2018:  The Health Workers in Gaza–showing ingenuity and courage.
In an odd way, this article published on 8/10/18 in the prestigious British Medical Journal lifts up the ingenuity of the surgeons practicing under incredible duress and managing with shortages of supplies, electricity and technology. This is an important article as it appears in a medical journal and it gives specific examples of the serious state of the Gaza health delivery system–a result of the Israeli occupation and siege on Gaza.
A consulting surgeon from England reflected on what he observed in a day at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City-

“The quick fix is with a shunt, which is essentially a plastic tube, but there were no shunts to deal with all these people so other tubes were pressed into service. I saw a femoral artery bypassed with a nasogastric tube, a lot of clever innovative stuff, and then a few days later when things were a bit more peaceful it was replaced with a vein graft, and the leg survived.”

As the wounded come in to the Gaza hospitals continuously there are no supplies coming in. Nurses and doctors, in addition to being incredibly innovative, are working with their own trauma under extremely dire conditions and for long hours. The HAC offers our utmost respect and solidarity to the health workers in Gaza.
Remembering the 3 medics killed by Israeli military forces in Gaza (since March 30, 2018):  Abdullah al-Qatati, Razan Al Najjar and  Musa Abuhassanin. The targeting of these first responders and all health workers and facilities is a crime under international law.

August 6, 2018: The crew of the Freedom Flotilla sailing to Gaza to break the siege.
“There is something inhuman going on in front of our eyes.” stated Canadian doctor Majed Khraishi, one of the crew on the latest International Freedom Flotilla. His boat, Al Awda was seized by the Israeli navy thwarting their attempt to deliver medical supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip.
The interception of the boat was quite brutal–crew members were tasered and beaten and all the medical supplies were confiscated by the Israelis.
Dr. Khraishi, a rheumatologist and clinical professor of medicine in Newfoundland, Canada, said, “I know people will try again and again, and things will change. And things change with very small things at the beginning.”

It is to those crew members–health workers and others that we offer our Health Advisory Council Human Rights Hero of the week award. We honor their acts of courage.

July 31, 2018: The Tamimi women AND the power of art as a non-violent tool of the resistance.
Sunday July 29: Ahed and Nariman Tamimi’s release from Israeli prison.  To honor Ahed as a symbol of the Palestinian youth resistance movement three artists, two Italians citizens and one Palestinian, were arrested by the Israeli military for painting mural honoring Ahed Tamimi on the Palestinian side of the Separation Wall. Mondoweiss was one news sources to report on the arrest. According to an Israeli Border Patrol person, “any painting on the barrier is illegal.” The JVP HAC honors the power of non-violent resistance such as these artists and all of the village of Nabi Seleh–standing for an end to Israeli occupation and for freedom, equality and justice for Palestine.

July 23, 2018
In lieu of our usual Human Rights Hero and Violation, this week the JVP Health Advisory Council is sending these resources with this emergency plea to all JVP supporters:
​–As individuals with an interest and a passion for health, we are beyond words in grief and anger at the ongoing worsening human rights situation in Gaza. We cannot be silent or complacent–the oaths from our various professions, “do no harm” inform us of the importance of our work to stop the suffering that is now off- the- scale in Gaza. To do nothing is to do harm.
–As Americans, we realize that our government plays an enormous role in perpetuating this crisis. ​That is where our work lies–educating, pushing, resisting, when necessary, to get our elected officials to act from places of conscience and human rights to demand that Israeli policy and actions are grounded in human rights and international law.
–As Jews, we act from our faith–“Justice, justice, shall you pursue” (Deut 16:20).
In Gaza now:

  • Hospitals are having to curtail not just non-urgent services, but also many that are life-sustaining such as dialysis, incubators for critically ill newborns, cardiac care support.
  • Non-emergent surgeries are being postponed
  • Some hospitals have shut down obstetrical services and reduced their hours of operation
  • Hospitals are cutting back on sterilization of equipment and housekeeping to maintain a clean environment
  • Essential Medications are non-existent or running out
PLEASE contact all of your members of congress to take action for essential services for Gaza. Elected officials must contact the U.S. State Department to urge pressure on Israel to immediately–
1. OPEN the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow for entry of all needed goods and services. This includes fuel, medications, food, supplies for rebuilding and repairing housing and hospital infrastructure and equipment. (See the below appeal from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Occupied Palestinian Territory). 
2. Congress must act to pressure the Administration to restore full U.S. funding to all UN operations in Gaza–this includes essential health and educational services.
3. Introduce and support legislation calling on Israel to lift the siege on Gaza as a first step toward a real peace process. 
 
H​ere is a good summary of the casualties of the past few months:
Whatever our beliefs about the long term advisability of dependence on NGO aid for Gaza’s sustainability, we must now acknowledge and respond to this immediate human rights crisis. Essential goods, services, salaries are at stake. 
PLEASE CALL/EMAIL/VISIT your elected officials and demand that the U.S. must pressure Israel to ease the crisis in Gaza. 

July 16, 2018: The Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine-Israel Network.
On July 13, guided by the vision and leadership of the EPF/PIN, The Episcopal Church adopted a human rights screen for all church investments that would avoid profiting from human rights abuses in Israel/Palestine. With the passage of this resolution at the National Conference of the Episcopal Church, that denomination joins other large Christian churches such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church in calling for investment screens to end complicity with corporations who profit from human rights violations in Palestine. 

July 9, 2018: Ayelet Brachfeld, a young Israeli conscientious objector.
Ayelet Brachfeld, a young Israeli, just completed a 100 day jail sentence for refusing to serve in the Israeli military. She stated her refusal to “take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people.” Brachfeld, as a non-religious Jew, was granted conscientious objector (C.O.) status. This is rarely given to secular Jews.
A portion of her statement read, ” I have the responsibility to do everything I can to stop this cycle of bloodshed. Refusing is my first step.”
Ayelet Brachfeld–served 100 days in prison and was released with C.O. status.

July 2, 2018: Five young Jewish women who walked out on a Birthright tour to join a tour of occupied Hebron with the Israeli group, Breaking the Silence.
 “A group of five young American Jewish women on their free propaganda trip to Israel kept demanding information about the occupation, and at last left the trip to join a tour of occupied Hebron by the Israeli dissident group Breaking the Silence. And the Israelis went crazy.”
In a posted statement, one of the women says “We… have been really disappointed on a number of occasions about the way that Birthright has completely erased the effects of the occupation or avoided our questions, or spun things in a way that we felt were extremely biased…The world should know. The American Jewish community and the youth– the young people of the American Jewish community should know that the birthright is not providing the kind of education that we really need in this time of complex and entrenched politics, and Birthright is telling a one sided story. And it’s not fair. And we deserve the truth.”
Mondoweiss

June 25, 2018: The Presbyterian Church of the USA
This past weekend, the Presbyterian Church (of the USA) overwhelmingly passed 10 resolutions in support of Palestine justice. Resolutions including support for Palestinian churches in working for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, condemnation of Israel’s attacks on peaceful protesters in Gaza, rejection of Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the moving of the US embassy passed the at the Church’s national meeting. The heroes are all who voted to follow their conscience and also to the tireless work of the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church who have championed justice for Palestine for many years. Congratulations on this win for human rights.

AND

June 25, 2018: Felicia Langer, human rights lawyer
Felicia Langer, pioneering lawyer and champion of Palestinian rights, died in Germany last week. Felicia Langer was a holocaust survivor. Langer was born in Poland in the early 1930s. Her entire extended family was killed by the Nazis, but she and her parents were able to escape. They first went to the USSR, and from there, Langer made her way to Israel. Since 1967, Langer devoted her law practice to defending Palestinian rights.

This is from her obituary in +972 MagazineLanger was a human rights and peace activist, a communist, and one of the first attorneys to represent Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in Israeli courts.” For her actions and beliefs she, of course, was plagued by threats of physical and professional harm. Yet she persisted.
Langer was a pioneer–as her biography in +972 went on to say, “…With her Polish accent and command of Latin, her partnership with West Bank and Gaza Palestinians may have been the strangest sight in the Middle East. To provide access to West Bank residents, Langer rented a small office on Koresh Street in Jerusalem, which would be her home base for the next twenty-three years. She soon became synonymous with the fight for Palestinian rights.”
 
As is said in Spanish to honor those who are absent, we say, “Felicia Langer–PRESENTE” to lift up that her spirit and courage live on as an inspiration for us all.

June 18, 2018: Co-winners, Gaza project We Are Not Numbers and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders supported the making of this amazing video which features the voices of several young people in Gaza. These voices are eloquent and resilient.

We Are Not Numbers tells the human side of the story of life in Gaza by supporting young Gazan writers and filmmakers. Bernie Sanders made sure the video got widespread publicity.

June 10, 2018: An anonymous group of Israeli-Jewish activists, calling themselves “RETURN”.
The activists hung photos of those killed by the Israeli Defense Force during the Great Return March on the Gaza Apartheid Fence and called for the right of return.

June 4, 2018: Razan al-Najjar: “Her only weapon was her medical vest.”
On Friday June 1, Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year- old nurse, working as a volunteer medic with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society, was shot and killed by Israeli sharpshooters near the Gaza fence. Much has been written in these past few days about Razan.

  • Razan has been at all the Friday protests of the Great Return March. Various media sources have release photos of her tending to wounded demonstrators since March 30.
  • She became a medic, one of the few women in this field, to show her society and the world the capability of women.
  • Razan was to be engaged to another medic in a few weeks
  • At the time she was shot by the Israeli soldier, she was dressed in clearly identifiable medic clothing, she and other medics were about 100 meters from the fence, they were running with their hands held up to give aid to protesters who were overcome by tear gas.
Here is some of the media coverage on Razan’s killing:

CNN
New York Times and a recent interview with Razan in the NYT
The Middle East Eye
Al Jazeera
The statement responding to her death by United Nations agencies.

We honor Razan as a hero, sending our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. We call on the international community to hold Israel accountable for the targeting and killing of health care workers, ambulances and facilities.

May 28, 2018: Organizations and health care workers who have coordinated “Trauma Stabilization Points” to improve outcomes of wounded protesters at the Gaza front-lines.
Frontline health care in Gaza“–Coordinating together, the World Health Organization, Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society have established “Trauma Stabilization Points” (TSPs) at the sites of the tent camps for the March of Return. The TPS tent clinics are just minutes away from the frontlines where the Gaza protesters have been met by intensive Israeli military power.
Despite incredibly difficult and dangerous conditions, the health workers in the TPSs have been able to stabilize and triage the wounded thus reducing some of the burden on the over-crowded hospitals.

May 6, 2018 : Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour.
On May 3, Palestinian poet, Dareen Tatour was convicted and sentenced to two-and- one- half years of detention by the Israeli court. In addition to her detention, Tatour is forbidden from publishing any poetry for this period of time. Her crime was to publish a poem online that the Israelis claim “incited violence” and showed her “support for a terrorist organization”.
Here is Tatour’s poem, Resist, My People, Resist Them. We publish it here in her honor and in full support for Palestinian freedom of speech.

Resist, My People, Resist Them
Resist, my people, resist them.
In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows
And carried the soul in my palm
For an Arab Palestine.
I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution,”
Never lower my flags
Until I evict them from my land.
I cast them aside for a coming time.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the disgraceful constitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.
They burned blameless children;
As for Hadil, they sniped her in public,
Killed her in broad daylight.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.
Pay no mind to his agents among us
Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.
Do not fear doubtful tongues;
The truth in your heart is stronger,
As long as you resist in a land
That has lived through raids and victory.
So Ali called from his grave:
Resist, my rebellious people.
Write me as prose on the agarwood;
My remains have you as a response.
Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist, my people, resist them.

April 30, 2018: Israeli soldiers and a conscientious objector who are speaking out, taking personal risks and challenging the Israeli military in various ways to oppose the policies against Palestinians.
Matan Helman, age 20 years, was just released from military prison for his refusal to serve in the Israeli military.  Another Israeli, 18 year old Ayelet Brachfeld, remains in prison for her refusal to serve. Both are members of the Masarvot refusers network.
From Helman’s statement:
“I walk out of prison with my head held high with the knowledge that many youth of conscience and integrity in Israel will refuse to take part in the occupation and in Israel’s policies of oppression vis-a-vis the Palestinians.”

And Breaking the Silence.
As part of presentations in the U.S. last week a group of five former Israeli military snipers issued a public statement which, in part, reads, “Instructing snipers to shoot to kill unarmed demonstrators who pose no danger to human life, is another product of the occupation and military rule over millions of Palestinian people, as well as of our country’s callous leadership, and derailed moral path. Harming innocent people in Gaza is part of what is needed to maintain the regime of occupation, and we must not allow it to continue. Only ceasing to militarily control the Palestinian people will bring this to an end.”

April 23, 2018: Palestinian women at the forefront of Gaza protests.
Palestinian young women are playing an active role in the Great Return March movement challenging not only Israeli snipers but also their own patriarchal societies

April 15, 2018: Gazan men, women, and children engaged in the weekly March of Return.
Thousands of unarmed Gazan families have engaged in three weekly massive nonviolent acts of civilian  resistance, setting up tents near the Israeli border, celebrating with food, clowns, dabke dancing, kite flying, acrobatics, story telling, weddings and more, refusing to be to intimated by Israeli military might, refusing to forget the dreams of their lost homeland.
The Nation
Al-Monitor
The Palestine Chronicle

April 9, 2018: B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, for their campaign launched this week, “Sorry Commander, I Cannot Shoot”.
B’Tselem launched this public campaign in light of the tragic and pre-planned Israeli response to the Gaza protests of March 30 and April 6, 2018. The “I Cannot Shoot” campaign urges Israeli military to obey their conscience and international law by refusing to shoot under the circumstances of the demonstrations that posed no threat to Israeli land or people. The B’Tselem website has excellent information about the premeditated and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli military.

April 2, 2018: The thousands of Palestinians observing Land Day in both the West Bank and in Gaza.
Starting on Land Day, March 30, Palestinian refugees peacefully gathered at the nearest point by the Israeli border to call for their rights.  In Gaza tens of thousands of unarmed civilians amassed, setting up tent cities near the border, calling for their right to return to the lands they lost in 1948.

March 26, 2018: Ahed Tamimi representing the 356 Palestinian children currently in Israeli jails.
There is much in the press about 17-year old Ahed Tamimi this week as she reached a plea deal that will give her an 8 month prison sentence (greatly reduced from what was feared to possibly be a 10+ yr sentence).
The HAC lifts her up as a symbol of the brave, steadfast Palestinian youth leaders who have lived their entire lives under occupation and military law and yet continue to struggle for a future that will bring justice for all.

Sign on to tell Ahed you are sending her strength and love:
Two recent tributes to Ahed Tamimi:

March 19, 2018: Stephen Hawking, renowned scientist and supporter of Palestinian rights, died last week.
Hawking personally supported the academic boycott of Israel and was publicly critical of Israeli government policies.

March 12, 2018: Archbishop Romero, who denounced a crackdown of leftist opponents of  El Salvador’s military government and was assassinated, will be made a saint the Vatican announced.
Oscar Romero adhered to a liberation theology that supported the weak and oppressed against the powerful and the military and was killed while celebrating Mass in March 1980.

March 5, 2018: The prominent Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, for their ongoing reporting on violations of international law and human rights.
Israel has a system in place for treating the waste generated in its territory. This report reveals a significant portion of this system is located in the West Bank. Abusing its status as an occupying power, Israel has set out less stringent regulations in industrial zones in settlements and even offers financial incentives such as tax breaks and government subsidies to build waste facilities in the OPT.

February 26, 2018: A young woman engineer in Gaza challenges both the patriarchal society and the shortages of electricity and cement.
24 year old Majd al-Mashharawi has figured out how to turn ash and rubble to “Green Cakes,” a cement replacement and is now developing an off the grid solar energy kit for Gazans.

February 19, 2018: Twenty-seven American cultural figures who signed a petition calling for the release of Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi
Actors, novelists, activists, and academics compare the children of immigrants and communities of color who face police brutality in the US to Palestinian children, stating that racism, state violence and mass incarceration rob them all of their childhoods and their futures.

February 13, 2018: Protesters against deportations in Israel
Thousands protest at Rwanda’s Embassy in Israel against asylum-seeker deportation plan.

February 5, 2018: Children of Gaza
The children of Gaza call upon the people of the world to end the siege: “Do not you have children? Do you accept that your children have the same life as me?”

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION OF THE WEEK:

December 10, 2018: The systematic denial of building permits to Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank: Case example: al-Tahaddi School
On 12/5/18, Maan News reported on the demolition by the Israeli military of an elementary school built by the village of al-Simiya in the Hebron District of the West Bank. The school was nearing the end of construction and was scheduled to open to student of the village this coming week. The al-Tahaddi 13 School, with seven classrooms was built to serve 50 students. The local Palestinian authorities built the school in order to lessen the pressure on the students who now have to cross Israeli checkpoints a large highway and face delays and harassment to get to their current school at some distance from the village.
The demolition of the school is the latest in the context of Israel’s almost total denial of building permits to Palestinians across the West Bank.
This school and village are in Area C which is under full Israeli security and civil authority. Reports document the nearly total rejection by Israeli authorities to approve Palestinian building permits. Israeli authorities reject about 94% of the building permits submitted by Palestinians in Area C.
The Catholic Human Rights group, Society of Saint Yves reports on other case studies where Palestinians are forced to build homes, schools and other needed structures without a permit. Israeli military order 1797 which was issued on April 17, 2018 and put into effect on June 19, 2018 expands the arbitrary powers of the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) to remove or demolish new structures built without permits in Area C.
An additional excellent resource can be found in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Report documenting the cycle of denial of building permits followed by demolition of essential dwellings, villages, and schools. 

December 3, 2018: CNN caving to Israel Lobby and firing Marc Lamont Hill.
CNN caved in to pressure from the Israel Lobby and fired Marc Lamont Hill, a political commentator and professor at Temple University, after his delivering a speech at the United Nations on November 28 at an event held for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People: “We have an opportunity to not just offer solidarity in words but to commit to political action, grassroots action, local action and international action that will give us what justice requires and that is a free Palestine from the river to the sea.” He was attacked by the Anti-Defamation League; Dan Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel; and Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, among others, with claims that he was “employing genocidal rhetoric”. In response, Hill noted “In my remarks, which you clearly didn’t hear, I was talking about full citizenship rights IN Israel and a redrawing of the pre-1967 borders… I support Palestinian freedom. I support Palestinian self-determination. I am deeply critical of Israeli policy and practice. I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.”
https://www.jta.org/2018/11/29/top-headlines/cnn-fires-commentator-marc-lamont-hill-called-free-palestine-river-sea
https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/marc-lamont-hill-politically-lynched-telling-truth-about-palestine
https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-cnn-contributor-fired-for-endorsing-palestine-from-the-river-to-the-sea-1.6701104 

November 26, 2018: Israeli settlers who vandalized an under construction children’s playground.
The playground was being built along the Nablus-Jenin road near the Burqa Village West of the West Bank District of Nablus. Israeli settlers from the settlement of Shave Shomron broke into the playground to prevent any Palestinian projects from being completed and to take complete control of the area. Palestinian towns in the Nablus area are surrounded by Israeli settlements and outposts. Settler violence and vandalism takes place with the full backing of Israeli authorities.
Maan News     

November 18, 2018: Israel’s repeated violations of cease fires with Gaza–including this past week.
Last Tuesday, Nov. 13, a ceasefire agreement (between Israel and Hamas) went into effect in Gaza.For two days before that Gaza experienced the most lethal bombing it has seen since the 51- day war in 2014. In just over two days, eight Palestinians were killed, over 25 wounded, one Israeli soldier and one Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was working in Ashkelon at the time were also killed. Massive destruction was reported throughout Gaza and once again, the population waited out two days in fear.
“Shahira al-Rayes, 39, was asleep at home with her husband and two children in Gaza City when she was awakened by her neighbours, crying out that they had heard a “knock” on the building next door.
When the building was bombed, we felt death. My children and I screamed and screamed,” she said by phone. “After we realised that the shelling was over, I went up to my apartment, trying hard to calm my children and get them back to sleep. I could not sleep until morning.”  The Guardian
The 11/13 ceasefire was barely 24 hours old when the Israeli military shot and killed Gaza Fisherman, Nuaf Ahmad al-Attar, who was fishing within the legal sea limit as set by Israel for Gaza fishermen.The Israeli government claimed he was approaching the border. Then last Friday at the Great March of Return at the Gaza fence, 40 peaceful protesters were wounded, many by live ammunition, This too is in violation of the ceasefire.
The current dissent in the Israeli cabinet regarding the ceasefire is of grave human rights concern. Last week Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned stating that the ceasefire should not have been called and that the Netanyahu government was “surrendering to terror.”
Several sources point out the pattern of ceasefire breeches by the Israeli military. References from over the years can be seen here, here, here.
Certainly, Palestinians factions have also violated ceasefires, but the pattern, intensity, lethality and frequency of these violations by Israel’s military must be called out as a clear human rights violation.
An International NGO, Nonviolent Peaceforce, working in Burma stated, “Ceasefire agreements play an important role in the journey from war to sustainable peace.”
The JVP HAC raises the concern of Israel’s intentions for true peace when ceasefires are continuously violated and when leaders belittle their importance in saving lives.

November 12, 2018: The Israeli Soldier Charged With Beating Blindfolded, Handcuffed Palestinian.
On November 5, military prosecutors charged an Israeli soldier (not named in press reports) with assaulting Anais Faysal Mustafa Hasib, an unarmed Palestinian detained at the Shaked Israeli settlement in the northern West Bank. According to Peace Now, Shaked was established in 1981 and has a population of  864 Jewish settlers. The 130 “settlements” in the West Bank were officially established by the Israeli government (East Jerusalem excluded) but are considered illegal under international law; the 101 West Bank “outposts” were established since the 1990s without Israeli government approval and are considered illegal under Israeli law.
According to the indictment, Hasib was arrested along with two other Palestinian men, who were then taken into a holding cell, handcuffed and blindfolded, then mocked by the arresting soldier who asked them “When did you last shower?” Hasib told the soldier he didn’t understand the question, to which the soldier replied, “When did you last wash yourself?” At that point a female soldier who was present was asked to leave the room.
Hasib then cursed at the soldier in Arabic, upon which the soldier pushed Hasib up against the wall and beat him until his nose bled, at which point another soldier pulled the assailing soldier out of the room.
The IDF spokesperson said in response: “The IDF takes the issue of assaulting prisoners serious and is working to enforce the rules on this matter.”
Haaretz

November 5, 2018: Israeli bulldozers uproot olive trees near Tulkarem.
Israeli bulldozers razed land and uprooted Olive trees, the livelihood of the Palestinian people in the Occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem. The land was razed for the settlement expansion of Avnei Hefetz, a settlement located adjacent to Tulkarem. Israel’s policy of settlement expansion is escalating with more Palestinian people losing their homes, their land, and livelihoods. I (Amy Alpert) was just in the West Bank and there are more and more settlements being built.
https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=781659

October 29, 2018:
Preface–The JVP HAC pauses for a moment in the publication of this week’s Human Rights Hero and Violation in reflection of the moment we are in. We are heartbroken and we mourn the unspeakably horrible attack and murders yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our most sincere condolences go to the families, friends and community that was shattered by this horror. We hold each of you in love as you grieve, and with tenderness as you find some healing. We also hold the grief and outrage at the racially motivated murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones in Kentucky.  May the memory of each person who lost their life be a blessing.

Also, this week, we watched the unraveling of a plot to send bombs to a number of political figures and the media who have been critical of the current Administration. Thank goodness there were no injuries from these devises, but they were real and they were horrific. And, the meanness, racism, violence and destructiveness of all of these events is the result of an emboldening rhetoric and policies from the top levels of our government. The hollow words from the Administration following the incidents show no understanding of the root cause and how their  complicity in these acts of violence. We call that out.
The JVP HAC, speaking from our health lens, absolutely rejects the notion that anyone is safer when there are armed guards at the doors of schools, places of worship, public spaces–anywhere. Gun violence is a major public health threat to our nation. The solution: Sensible laws that limit the availability of firearms.
We see parallels in the rhetoric and policies in the Israeli government. Certain lives are simply less valuable than others. A true introspection at the top of how the lethal policies of violence and discrimination fuel individual acts of horror does not exist–not among our leaders here and not in Israel. A military that bombs civilians with total impunity or regard for International standards (in Israel’s case) and/or that contributes to such actions (as in the case of the U.S. with regard to Israel and Saudi Arabia) is the systemic manifestation of this disregard for life.
Bombs and bullets will not cease in our work for justice–from Central America, to Saudi Arabia, to Palestine-Israel, to Pittsburgh, and all our beautiful places in between, we call out violations of human rights and we lift up the heroes whose spirits and sheer determination will not be stopped.
Human Rights Violation: More on the health impacts of the Gaza water crisis
The JVP HAC has written often about the dire health consequences of the water crisis in Gaza–contamination and scarcity of water. Several important articles (here and here and this video report by Sandy Tolan–highly recommend watching this!)report on the increasing incidence of acute and chronic health consequences of the water situation in Gaza.
Solutions proposed by Israel and others for water de-salinization or the purchase of water are not adequate or helpful. As with all the public health issues in Gaza, the upstream cause of the water crisis is the political situation, most immediately and critically, the siege on Gaza.

October 22, 2018: Gaza’s deadly water pollution.
Illness caused by water pollution is a leading cause of child mortality in the Gaza Strip, says a study by the RAND Corporation. The collapse of water infrastructure has led to a sharp rise in germs and viruses such as rotavirus, cholera and salmonella, the report says; 97% of water is unfit for human consumption, and is responsible for 26% of all acute illnesses in Gaza, and over 12% of child mortality. One-third of the average Gazan’s income is spent on water. The equivalent of 43 Olympic-size swimming pools of sewage water flows into the sea daily; Gaza residents are advised against entering the sea. Sewage, water, and electricity infrastructure have been severely damaged in Israeli military strikes during periods of conflict, especially 2014’s Operation Protective Edge. One of the study’s authors remarked, “To think that all this is taking place beyond the fences of a water power such as Israel is inconceivable” Moreover, the ongoing Israeli blockade that has been in place since 2007 prevents the import of building materials for reconstruction and other items required to maintain and operate water and sewage systems and treat water to adequate levels. Even simple items like membranes for water filters and chlorine to disinfect water are often unavailable. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports (6 July 2015) that the Israeli blockade of Gaza “ inflicted large-scale destruction on Gaza’s local economy, productive assets and infrastructure, and affected numerous industrial, agricultural, commercial and residential facilities either directly or indirectly through debilitated infrastructure and acute shortages of inputs, water, electricity and fuel… the blockade creates chronic shortages of electricity and fuel, which in turn aggravate contamination and the water crisis.”

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium.MAGAZINE-polluted-water-a-leading-cause-of-gazan-child-mortality-says-rand-corp-study-1.6566812https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/tdb62d3_en.pdf
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181017-study-polluted-water-main-cause-of-death-in-gaza/

October 15, 2018: US using Israeli systems for homeland security at the US-Mexican border. Israel has the largest homeland security system in the world using Gaza as its testing ground for new technology and weapons in live situations.
Israeli systems are installed at every turn on the US-Mexico border, reflecting the fact that Israel has the largest homeland security industry in the world. Israel’s arms industry is twice the size of its US counterpart in exports per capita and employs a percentage of the national workforce double that of the US or France, two of the top global arms exporters.
“Gaza is widely perceived as a human Petri dish – to improve killing capacity and cultivate pacification methods – among the movers and shakers in the Israeli high-tech and military sectors…Palestinians in Gaza themselves play a role in the testing phase, performing a ‘crucial part’ of this homeland security industry cycle.” The most recent innovations include: the Sea of Tears drone, the Shoko drone, and Butterfly bullets.
https://electronicintifada.net/content/gaza-laboratory-boosts-profits-israels-war-industry/25636 

October 8, 2018: Deteriorating living conditions feed frustration and desperation in Gaza.
Human rights violations abound in the Israeli response to the non-violent protests in Gaza. For an overall summary of Palestinian deaths, injuries, and humanitarian needs, see this comprehensive Report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), published on 10/4/18. 

 Gisha, 10/7/18, reported on conditions in Gaza during the the now over 6 months since the start of the Great March of Return. The Israeli military has tightened the siege. Israel has again reduced fishing rights for Gaza fishermen from nine nautical miles to six, Israel has allegedly increased the number of military personnel at the Gaza borders making many fear that there is a build-up to further increase military actions against the civilian population of Gaza. 
 
In an attempt to lessen the electricity crisis, Qatar is preparing to give emergency funding for the power plant in Gaza, however as the Gisha report states, “Extending the hours of available electricity would be welcome but it’s a reminder that Gaza’s two million residents, most of whom are children and young people, don’t live in twenty-first century conditions that many are used to, certainly in Israel. They are compelled to make due with four to six hours of electricity per day with the attendant consequences for water supply and sanitation services. More closure and more violence are the obstacles to security and prosperity for the region as a whole.” (note this link within this quote to a 2017 report by Gisha on the ongoing breakdown of infrastructure in Gaza). 
 
UN OCHA data on 10/4/18–casualties and deaths in Gaza

October 1, 2018: Delays and direct attacks on ambulances and medical teams serving Palestinians.
Israeli Channel 10 and The Times of Israel report (September 12) that Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances at times find themselves delayed by security guards when they try to enter Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center with patients in urgent need of care. In one recent incident, a Red Crescent ambulance reaches the hospital entrance. A member of the ambulance staff tells a guard that 13-year-old East Jerusalem resident Nur a-Din Sanduka has a critical head wound. In a recording of the exchange, the security shift manager is heard chastising the guard, demanding, “What are you letting in Red Crescent?” The guard replies that a medic “said [Sanduka] is going to die.” The manager replies, “He can die. Security.” The report notes that Red Crescent ambulance crews have complained about Shaare Zedek’s security in the past, and even faced criticism from the Health Ministry over the delays. In a statement to Channel 10, the hospital acknowledges the incident, condemns it and says the security manager has been removed from her post. “The ambulance [carrying Sanduka] wasn’t delayed and was let in immediately,” the hospital notes. “Shaare Zedek condemns the security [manager’s] comment. She was a contract worker and not a hospital employee, and has been removed from her post.”

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel reports that “attacks on medical teams serving West Bank and East Jerusalem residents have been consistently reported during the recent period. The events include cases of shooting at or near ambulances, assaults on paramedics, and hindrance of medical care. The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported 355 injuries to their team members since October 3, 2015. Moreover, 150 staff and volunteers were injured and 100 ambulances sustained various damages.

September 24, 2018: More Cuts in Aid to Palestinians.
Palestine is the testbed for Trump’s plan to tear up the rules-based international. Cuts in aid to Palestinians come from $10 million in programs involving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The most recent cuts target cancer patients and peace groups. A portion of the money is being redirected to Israel.
Mondoweiss

September 16, 2018: A compilation of human rights violations over the past two weeks.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)–Protection of Civilians Report 28 August-10 September, 2018 summarizes human rights violations against civilians that occurred during this 2-week time period. This snapshot demonstrates the ongoing reality of the occupation.

  • A continuation of the lethal force by Israel towards the non-violent protesters of the Great March of Return in Gaza. During these two weeks, three Palestinians were killed, including two children and 666 were injured. 
  • Injuries to Gaza fishermen who attempted to break the siege as a part of the Great March of Return. 
  • Severe restrictions on Palestinians fishing off the coast of Gaza
  • Closures of border crossings between Gaza and Israel and throughout the West Bank during the period of Rosh Hashanah. 
  • Settler violence towards Palestinians
  • Widespread violence throughout the West Bank by the Israeli military targeting schools, teachers, children and villages involved in ongoing non-violent resistance.

September 10, 2018: The United States as our villain of the week as it cuts funding to more hospitals. US Cuts funding to East Jerusalem Hospitals where the higher-level hospitals available for Palestinian patients in the oPt are located.
The Lutheran World Federation regrets the decision by the US administration, reported by several news agencies, to cut its funding for the six East Jerusalem Hospitals. According to a budget approved by the US Congress, the hospitals in East Jerusalem, including the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), were budgeted to receive USD 25 million in funding during financial year 2017 to cover costs for patients referred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Today’s news reports come following a policy review by the US administration that resulted in several funding cuts affecting people in the West Bank and Gaza.

September 2, 2018: The Ending of all US funding to UNRWA
Multiple news sources covered the latest escalation in U.S. funding cuts for one of the most essential humanitarian aid organizations for over 5 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. On September 1, the U.S. Government announced that it will no longer support UNRWA, the United Nations agency charged with providing essential health, nutritional, educational and infrastructure aid to all Palestinian refugees living in the region. Spokespersons for the U.S. State Dept. called the agency’s work “flawed”.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, stated“We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centres, and emergency assistance programs are ‘irredeemably flawed.”
U.S. aid made up about 30% of UNRWA’s operating budget. In 2016, the U.S. provided UNRWA $368 million. Trump had cut the aid package to a total of about $165million. In January 2018, the Trump Administration gave a portion of that amount. Last week, the US government announced that there would be no further funding to UNRWA.
As the JVP HAC has stated in previous weeks, foreign aid is not a substitute for a just political solution where Palestine is allowed to be free and to prosper. However, withholding humanitarian aid as a political tool to advance the Trump/Kushner “peace plan” is a blatant violation of human rights, including a backhanded way to deny refugees their inherent rights.
See reports about UNRWA cuts: hereherehere , herehere. And also, here and here as important stories to set the context.

August 27, 2018: United States government for again cutting aid for humanitarian and development programs in Palestine.
Last week the U.S. State Department, under direction of President Trump, ordered more than $200 million of aid for Palestine suspended. This follows past cuts by the U.S. Government to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) –the organization largely responsible for education, nutrition and health care to Palestinian refugees throughout Palestine, and those displaced elsewhere in the Middle East.
Husam Zumlot, Head of the Palestinian Delegation to the U.S. stated, “Weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work.”
The JVP Health Advisory Council again calls out the cuts in U.S. aid directed toward humanitarian relief in Palestine. We recognize that an aid dependent society is NOT the end-goal, but rather is an essential lifeline until full justice and freedom are gained for Palestine. We have to work on both fronts.
Critical shortages in fuel and medical essentials in Gaza have been topics of Past HAC weekly Human Rights Violations. These U.S. aid cuts compound the humanitarian crisis, especially acute in Gaza. To read more on the implications of  additional aid cuts see: here, and here (for how cutting aid to UNRWA is a political tool connected to denial of refugee status to over 4 million Palestinians).
As reported by NPR, the aid money that was cut would have gone directly to projects to aid the Palestinian civilian population.

August 19, 2018: AND what you can do to support their cause, Seraj Library Project.
Adding to the many examples of resiliency and resistance under the brutality of the occupation and warfare, is the Seraj Library Project, a community based program of creating libraries and social spaces in Palestinian villages.
This project currently has eight libraries throughout the West Bank. These are sites of, not just books, but places for active engagement of community members, storytelling, Palestinian crafts and cultural exchanges and education.
The website for the Seraj Project is: https://www.serajlibraries.org/
The Seraj Libraries project was started by Palestinian, Estephan Salameh and his wife, Laurie. They are governed by community boards at each site. More information is available on the website. A worthy cause–a vital oasis in the storm.

August 13, 2018:  The United States, England, Israel and Saudi Arabia for committing and/or funding and supplying weapons used in the horrific attacks on civilians this past week in Yemen and in Gaza.
This past week was particularly disturbing and horrible in terms of civilian deaths from major military actions in Yemen and in Gaza. The JVP HAC calls out the nations who committed the attacks as well as the US and England for funding the weapons.

“The United States’ continued transfer of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in its military operations in Yemen—operations which the United Nations Expert Panel of Experts has found have involved repeated violations of international humanitarian law—would appear to run directly counter to this policy guidance, as well as the AECA and FAA.” 
 
In a column in The Guardian this past week, Owen Jones reported on the £4.7 Billion for arms the British government has given to the Saudis since the war on Yemen began. This past week these weapons were used in a Saudi led attack that killed at least 29 children riding a school bus.
In Gaza this past week, Israeli bombs destroyed a major cultural center in Gaza City. The al- Meshal Center was a very prominent and important site of culture for the people of Gaza. At least 3 civilians were killed last week, including a pregnant woman and her 18 month old daughter.
Also among those killed by Israeli bombs was medic, Abdullah Al-Qatati. Al-Qatati, a volunteer medic who was tending to other wounded protesters when he was killed is the third emergency medical worker to be killed by the Israeli forces since the start of the Great March of Return.
In a disturbing report in Haaretz Hebrew edition,(reported on by several English speaking sources), IDF spokespersons admitted to purposely targeting civilian areas in Gaza as a way of putting political pressure on Hamas.
Here is one summary of U.S. military aid to Israel as a reminder that in both Saudi Arabia and Israel, US funding is, to put it lightly, a major source of military support.

August 6, 2018: Israeli & U.S. government policies toward Gaza–the ongoing UNRWA crisis.
There are a number of interconnected developments in recent news that are further suffocating and devastating the people and environment of Gaza. The HAC Human Rights violation of the week again spotlights the policies behind and impacts of the slashing of funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). To be clear, dependence on aid agencies is not the long-term goal for justice. However, UNRWA continues to be the main lifeline for millions of Palestinian refugees–and it is a humanitarian as well as political crisis. In Gaza well over half the population depends on UNRWA aid for education, health services, food, microeconomic and basic infrastructure support. In late July, the United States cut $300 million in funding to UNRWA contributing in a large part to a huge budget shortfall for the agency. A decrease in services are just one serious implication of the UNRWA cuts. Due to the budget cuts, over 250 UNRWA employees will lose their jobs. In Gaza, with unemployment at over 40%, an UNRWA paycheck to an individual employee is often the sole income for large extended families, so the loss of pay has dire consequences to thousands of people. As human rights lawyer, Zaha Hassan writes, the Trump Middle East team with Jared Kushner at the lead is withholding UNRWA funding as a leverage mechanism to force the Palestinians to negotiate on the terms of their peace plan.
Several articles on the work of UNRWA in Gaza and the human rights implications of these drastic cuts in UNRWA services:
Al Aqsa Professor Haidar Eid gives an overview of the dire circumstances in Gaza currently.
To understand the magnitude of UNRWA services in Gaza:
UNRWA report summarizing services in Gaza
Health specific services provided by UNRWA (West Bank)
Health specific services provided by UNRWA (Gaza)
And in a broader concern is the attempt by the US government and some members of congress to greatly restrict the definition of who qualifies for Palestinian refugee status in order to undermine claims for both services as well as the undermine the right of return. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced HR 6451 UNRWA Reform and Refugee Support Act–a bill to restrict the definition of Palestinian refugee and thus cut claims for services.

Please continue making calls and emails to your elected Members of Congress–Refugee designation and Humanitarian Aid for refugees is a human right and must not be made into a political tool.  

July 31, 2018: Israeli sharpshooters who are injuring and killing non-violent protesters in Gaza.
Multiple sources report ( see also here and here) on the use of highly trained sharp-shooters, mostly from Israeli Special Forces, acting as Israel’s line of defense against the largely non-violent protests in Gaza–the Great March of Return. Rarely is the media reporting on the violations of human rights and international law inherent in the use of such deadly force against citizens expressing their right to protest on their own soil.
From a case brought  to the Israeli Supreme Court by the human rights groups Adalah and Al Mezan…
The Israeli Supreme Court completely ignored the broad factual basis presented to it by the petitioners, which includes multiple testimonies of wounded and reports of international organizations involved in documenting the killing and wounding of unarmed protesters in Gaza. It is worth noting that the Israeli Supreme Court refused to watch video clips documenting Israeli shootings of demonstrators and, rather than actually examining the case, fully accepted the claims presented to it by the state. The extreme nature of the ruling is also highlighted by the striking absence of any mention of the casualty figures that had been presented to the court.”
Here (from the Committee to Protect Journalists), here, (from Human Rights Watch) and here (a briefing paper by Al Mezan) further illustrate the human rights violations of these sharpshooters.

July 23, 2018

In lieu of our usual Human Rights Hero and Violation, this week the JVP Health Advisory Council is sending these resources with this emergency plea to all JVP supporters:
​–As individuals with an interest and a passion for health, we are beyond words in grief and anger at the ongoing worsening human rights situation in Gaza. We cannot be silent or complacent–the oaths from our various professions, “do no harm” inform us of the importance of our work to stop the suffering that is now off- the- scale in Gaza. To do nothing is to do harm. 
–As Americans, we realize that our government plays an enormous role in perpetuating this crisis. ​That is where our work lies–educating, pushing, resisting, when necessary, to get our elected officials to act from places of conscience and human rights to demand that Israeli policy and actions are grounded in human rights and international law.  
–As Jews, we act from our faith–“Justice, justice, shall you pursue” (Deut 16:20).
In Gaza now:
  • Hospitals are having to curtail not just non-urgent services, but also many that are life-sustaining such as dialysis, incubators for critically ill newborns, cardiac care support.
  • Non-emergent surgeries are being postponed
  • Some hospitals have shut down obstetrical services and reduced their hours of operation
  • Hospitals are cutting back on sterilization of equipment and housekeeping to maintain a clean environment
  • Essential Medications are non-existent or running out

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Occupied Palestinian Territory 

PLEASE contact all of your members of congress to take action for essential services for Gaza. Elected officials must contact the U.S. State Department to urge pressure on Israel to immediately–
1. OPEN the Kerem Shalom crossing to allow for entry of all needed goods and services. This includes fuel, medications, food, supplies for rebuilding and repairing housing and hospital infrastructure and equipment. (See the below appeal from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Occupied Palestinian Territory). 
2. Congress must act to pressure the Administration to restore full U.S. funding to all UN operations in Gaza–this includes essential health and educational services.
3. Introduce and support legislation calling on Israel to lift the siege on Gaza as a first step toward a real peace process. 
H​ere is a good summary of the casualties of the past few months:
Whatever our beliefs about the long term advisability of dependence on NGO aid for Gaza’s sustainability, we must now acknowledge and respond to this immediate human rights crisis. Essential goods, services, salaries are at stake. 
PLEASE CALL/EMAIL/VISIT your elected officials and demand that the U.S. must pressure Israel to ease the crisis in Gaza. 

July 16, 2018: Israeli government’s imposition of  added harsh restrictions on goods entering and leaving Gaza.
The Israeli government on July 9 imposed new and harsh restrictions on goods entering into and leaving Gaza via Kerem Shalom, the only commercial crossing with Israel. The move by the Israeli government is reminiscent of the days of the most severe restrictions years ago at the start of the siege. The severe restrictions are being challenged by international human rights organizations as collective punishment and in violation of human rights. Only a narrow list of goods that Israel deems as being for “humanitarian needs” will be allowed to enter via the crossing. Products for construction, machinery repair and many other items needed will not be allowed to pass. There are huge repercussions on the economy of Gaza.
In addition, agricultural and other products manufactured or grown in Gaza for export will not be permitted. This creates a huge blow to the already devastated economy. A Gaza farmer quoted in Haaretz said, “If within a few days we don’t move the goods it will all go into the garbage or we will simply distribute it to people for free, but for a farmer like me this is a very severe loss.” Refrigeration and storage of agricultural products is almost impossible in Gaza due to lack of electricity.
The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, Michale Lynk stated, “The flying of incendiary kites into southern Israel, which has caused the burning and destruction of agricultural fields, is to be deplored, however, imposing even greater social and economic harm on Gaza will not address Israel’s true security interests, and it profoundly violates the rights of the residents of Gaza.”
Articles reporting on and responding to this crisis situation can be seen here here, and here.
Photo from Haaretz showing a family’s empty refrigerator made worse by lack of goods allowed into the besieged Gaza strip.  

July 9, 2018: Israeli Defense Force demolition of the village of Khan Al Ahmar
AND an action to take to stop the demolition of the village of Khan Al Ahmar.
On July 4, Israeli defense forces began demolitions to destroy the Palestinian village of Khan Al Ahmar, in the West Bank. The village is home to 32 families (about 170 people) who will become homeless by this military action. The villagers have been fighting their demolition orders for years. Local residents of the village with support from international human rights activists non-violently protested as the demolitions started. 35 people were injured–a number seriously. 13 people were arrested.
ACTION ITEM: As of this writing, the High Court of Israel has issued an injunction to halt the demolitions, giving the Israeli government until July 11 to prove their claims to the land and to investigate claims to land ownership.
Now is the time to contact all elected officials–many of whom are home for the 4th of July recess, to demand a permanent cessation to the plan to demolish the village of Khan Al Ahmar. Remind all MOCs that Israeli military demolitions occur in full violation of international law. The time is now to educate our elected officials about the ongoing systematic demolition of villages and neighborhoods in the West Bank. Urge MOCs to take notice and to speak out against these acts.

July 2, 2018: Birthright tour guide who condemned the five women who walked out to join a Breaking the Silence tour of Hebron, with threats and a racist rant against Palestinians.
The tour guide Golan told the women: “This is going to the heads of Birthright Israel right now… You pulled a fast one. You are trying to impose your opinions on the entire bus, on the entire trip, and this is not acceptable,” and then, “Be careful… Our life is the most important asset we have. OK. The rest follows after that. So first of all beware where they take you. If you have security….”
Mondoweiss

June 25, 2018: FBI harassment of Palestinian solidarity activists.
Here at home in ongoing efforts to silence those working for Palestine justice, the FBI is acting on the false claims of right wing, fringe groups such as Canary Mission to target and harass young people who are active in pro-justice groups. Several Palestine justice activists have been subjected to questioning by FBI agents. The FBI’s complicity with groups who are known to collect shady, false and character defaming information is highly concerning. It is a chilling violation of the constitutionally protected civil rights of those who the FBI is questioning.

June 18, 2018: The right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party.
Yisrael Beitenu introduced a bill in the Knesset that would make it a crime to film Israeli soldiers, particularly during clashes with Palestinians, despite objections by the attorney general. The bill makes filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison. The prison term increases to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.” The legislation includes both traditional media and social media. Source: Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

June 10, 2018: Israeli Military Pushes Misleading Video in Attempt to Smear Slain Palestinian Medic, Razan Al-Najjar.
This past Thursday (June 7), the IDF release a video portraying slain Palestinian nurse-medic Razan al-Najjar as a “Tool of Hamas”. Through editing of a past interview and taking her words out of context the Israeli military attempted to refute the fact that she was a clearly marked medic-emergency responder who was shot in the chest by live ammunition by an Israeli sharpshooter while running with her hands held to the sky some 300 meters from the border fence to provide care to a victim of tear gas. The IDF’s edited video was met with outrage, internationally.

The posting by the IDF is another in a long series of blaming the victim while taking no accountability for excessive military actions that are very likely war crimes. Coverage of the Israeli Military”s accounting about Razan’s killing can be seen herehere and here.

June 4, 2018: The Israeli Supreme Court for two decisions in the past week.
The Israeli Supreme Court approved the demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar. For nearly one decade, the residents of the village of Khan al-Ahmar have been fighting against the demolition of their village and relocation to a place near a garbage dump near the village of Abu Dis. This demolition is significant in that it paves the way for more dispossession of thousands of Palestinians out of Area C to make way for massive expansion of settlements.
The Israeli Supreme Court issued another decision this week. Th High Court approved the use of live ammunition by the Israeli military in response to the protests at the Great Return March in Gaza. The panel of judges declared that the protesters in Gaza posed a danger to Israeli soldiers and citizens. The petition against the use of live ammunition was brought by the human rights groups Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights. Adalah issued a statement following the Court decision pointing out that the judges did not watch video evidence of the injuries and denied testimony of victims. Much of the evidence was presented by the State of Israel.

May 27, 2018: The Israeli Supreme Court rules to continue policies of expulsion and dispossession to allow Jewish settlements to grow.
Israeli Supreme Court made a decision last week to approve the demolition of the village of Khan-Al Ahmar ​and displacement of the families who live there. Israeli authorities have awaited this court approval for the demolition of the village in order to allow for expansion of settlements in the E1 area of the West Bank. With this current court approval, the 32 Bedouin families (170 people, more than half are children) will be forced to leave their land. Israeli officials offer to relocate them adjacent to a garbage dump site near the village of Adu Dis.
Map from: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israels-top-court-okays-demolition-palestinian-village-1074858494

May 7, 2018: Aljazeera reports on Israel’s use of lethal weapons in response to the protests in Gaza.
Israeli weaponry includes “butterfly bullets” which open inside the body pulverizing bone and tissue. These bullets and a new highly toxic form of tear gas are causing massive injuries that the Palestinian and international doctors in Gaza are struggling to treat. Because of the complex and extremely destructive/lethal  injuries from these weapons, there is a greater need to send patients to the West Bank or Israel for medical treatment–this too is problematic due to Israel’s siege and restrictions on patients gaining permission to leave Gaza.

Amnesty International has called for an arm embargo  on Israel for its use of lethal force against the protesters in Gaza.
Quoting Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The nature of these injuries shows that Israeli soldiers are using high-velocity military weapons designed to cause maximum harm to Palestinian protesters that do not pose imminent threat to them. These apparently deliberate attempts to kill and main are deeply disturbing, not to mention completely illegal. Some of these cases appear to amount to willful killing, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime.”

April 30, 2018:  The Israeli military for the ongoing, now for 1 month, lethal use of force against demonstrators in Gaza.
Since the Gaza protests started about 1 month ago, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reports that about 17 demonstrators have had legs amputated as a result of being shot. In three cases, Israel denied the appeals to transfer the patients to the West Bank for treatment that may have prevented the need for amputation.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has sent several vascular surgeons to assist the overwhelmed Palestinian physicians in caring for the severe limb injuries. Each week the hospitals must prepare for a new round of injured demonstrators. The continued weekly use of lethal force, intermittent electricity, medical supply shortages and refusal of the Israelis to grant emergency medical visa for patients to leave Gaza for care are all compounding the very dire situation.
Washington Post
Reuters

April 23, 2018: More than 350 Palestinian children are behind Israeli bars, where human rights groups say they endure mistreatment.
Thus far in 2018, Israeli forces have arrested more than 353 children who have lost their childhood and their freedom.  Human rights organizations have documented multiple violations in the so called military justice system and prisons, including the use of brute force, restraining children in cruel ways, withholding food and water, violence and verbal aggression during interrogation and forcing confessions.

April 16, 2018: Israeli naval forces attack Gazan fisherman.
On 4/14 Israeli naval forces opened fire on Gaza fishermen and forced them to return to shore. Israel maintains control of Gaza’s coast line. Fishing is permitted only out to six nautical miles, however, Israeli forces at times do not even allow fishing boats to go to that distance. The Gaza fishing industry, a major source of income and of food, has been decimated due to the restrictions on fishing rights.

April 9, 2018: The Israeli military and settlers for ongoing violence toward children in the West Bank: Palestinian schools as targets.
The Middle East Eye documents the many schools in the West Bank that have been vandalized and terrorized by settler attacks and the Israeli military’s complicity in these acts. In other situations school lands have been confiscated and school buildings repeatedly demolished. Students have been attacked and tear gassed in their classrooms during school hours. The article linked here quotes findings from The Palestinian Education Ministry’s Annual Report (2017) “…80,279 Palestinian children and 4,929 teachers and staff were “attacked” by Israeli settlers or soldiers.”

April 2, 1018: The Israeli military orders on how to respond came before the Gaza protest encampment even began.
Israeli military orders called for the stationing of 100 of their “best” sharpshooters and massive troop deployment along the Gaza border. The preemptive use of force of live ammunition, rubber coated bullets, and tear gas by the Israeli military against unarmed protesters resulted in the deaths of 17 protesters and some 1400 wounded in Gaza this weekend.
IMEMCnews
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
B’tselem
CNN
New York Times

March 26, 2018: 21 Palestinian mothers jailed as political prisoners were denied contact with their children on Mother’s Day.
March 21 was Mother’s Day in Palestine​. There are currently 21 Palestinian mothers who are political prisoners in Israeli jails. They and their 87 children were deprived of contact for Mother’s Day.

March 19, 2018: Israeli police can now legally withhold the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces until their families agree to preconditions on funeral arrangements.
The Knesset passed a law allowing Israeli police to withhold the bodies of Palestinian citizens of Israel or residents of East Jerusalem for up to several months, to decrease the risk of “incitement,” despite an Israeli high court ruling that this is a violation of Israeli and international law.

March 12, 2018: Nine-year-old girl dies in ambulance at Israeli checkpoint.
Palestinian medical sources report that Dalal Lawlah died after Israeli soldiers at Huwara checkpoint prevented her father from taking her swiftly to Rafidia hospital and also fired tear gas at the ambulance.

March 5, 2018: The Israeli army claims Mohammed Tamimi’s head injury was not caused by a bullet but rather by falling off a bike.
After being shot in the head by the Israeli army with a bullet that was subsequently removed from his skull, Mohammed Tamimi was re-arrested and after “interrogation” stated that his head injury was secondary to a bike accident.

February 26, 2018: After the drive by killing of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, over several weeks, Israeli forces committed repeated illegal and reprehensible actions with impunity.
B’Tselem has documented that following the killing of a rabbi in the settlement outpost of Havat Gilad in the West Bank, Israeli forces demolished several Palestinian homes, including a home with inhabitants inside.  They attacked a number of families, strip searching three women and wrecking their homes, and set dogs on three residents.

February 19, 2018: Israeli soldiers attacked Palestinians planting olive trees in the village of Beita
Palestinians suffered multiple injuries when attacked by Israeli soldiers while planting on land that soldiers have been trying to illegally confiscate near Nablus.

February 13, 2018: Prison is better than deportation for asylum seekers sent to Rwanda or Uganda.
Asylum seekers sent to Rwanda do not get refugee status, have no work or food, and may face personal danger.

February 5, 2018: Extremists Jewish settlers uproot 100 olive trees in the village of Yasuf.
Settlers from the settlement of “Rahalim” uprooted 100 olive trees from the Yasuf lands in the Asharat area south of the village in the West Bank.

US Palestine Mental Health Network

We are US mental health workers who have come together to support the people of Palestine in their struggle to achieve justice. As human beings, we deplore the military, economic, social, and human rights violations imposed on the Palestinian people through the Israeli occupation. Beyond this, as mental health professionals, we identify the occupation as the specific cause of great harm to the well-being and mental health of both the Palestinian and the Israeli public. The USA Palestine Mental Health network seeks to counter the information black-out that the state of Israel has imposed on open access to news items, background facts, and public discussion of Palestine.

Visit US Palestine Mental Health Network

December 2, 2018: WATER FACT FROM THE ALLIANCE FOR WATER JUSTICE IN PALESTINE

According to a new Rand Corporation study, bad water is a leading cause of child mortality in Gaza, and Gaza’s children are facing a deadly health epidemic of unprecedented proportions.
Babies in Gaza are suffering from dehydration, vomiting, life-threatening diarrhea, and fever. In recent months doctors report sharp rises in gastroenteritis, kidney disease, anemia, pediatric cancer, marasmus (a disease of severe malnutrition), and “blue baby syndrome.” Medical journals document increased infant mortality and an “alarming magnitude” of stunting, which can affect brain development.
Palestinian Ministry of Health figures show a “doubling” of diarrheal disease of epidemic levels, as well as spikes in salmonella and even typhoid fever caused by fecal contamination (110 million litres of raw and poorly treated sewage flows into the Mediterranean every day).
Medical experts blame Gaza’s scarce and contaminated drinking water, due to Israel’s repeated bombing of water and sewage infrastructure, and Israel’s economic siege of Gaza. 97% of Gaza’s drinking-water wells are far below minimal standards for human consumption.
For example, in Gaza’s densely-packed Shati refugee camp, 87,000 refugees and their families—expelled from their towns and villages by Israel in 1948—live in half a square kilometre of cement-block structures along the Mediterranean. The aquifer water is undrinkable, so families spend up to half their income on the desalinated water trucked from Gaza’s unregulated wells. Up to 70% of the desalinated water is prone to fecal contamination.
Sources for factAlJazeera

Stand for health and human rights for all in Israel/Palestine.

Deadly-Exchange-Both-Mockup-Social

GET THE DEADLY EXCHANGE REPORT

Researching the American Israeli Alliance and Jewish Voice for Peace’s report reveals the extent of massive training programs between U.S. law enforcement and Israeli police, military, and the Shin Bet.

End the Deadly Exchange

When US law enforcement trade tactics with the Israeli police and military, Israel deepens its military occupation and the US heightens its violence of policing.

Booking.com: Tell the Truth

Days ago, Booking.com bowed to pro-Israel activists and started describing all of Jerusalem as a “city in Israel” – literally erasing Palestinian East Jerusalem. Let’s get Booking.com to tell the truth: East Jerusalem is occupied territory.

Senators: Investigate Israeli Violence!

No one should be killed for taking part in a peaceful protest. It’s up to us to call on progressive Senators to investigate Israel’s massacre in Gaza that killed over 100 Palestinians wounded 12,000 others.

Huge Palestinian march with text overlaid reading "support the #greatreturnmarch"