February 2019 Media Watch – JVP Health Advisory Council
February 1, 2019
Welcome to the monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
- Since 3/30/18, Israeli forces have killed at least 45 Palestinian children in Gaza.
Defense of Children International Palestine confirmed that children did not present any imminent, mortal threat or threat of serious injury when killed by Israeli forces. The report concludes Israeli forces and officials are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious violations of international law for the killing of Palestinian child protesters in Gaza.
- First child fatality of 2019.
First child fatality was a 13-year-old boy from Jabalia refugee camp who died in hospital on January 14 after sustaining a brain injury from a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces during a Great March of Return protest in Gaza.
- Impact of injuries caused by drone strikes.
Drone strikes were the most commonly reported cause of amputation injury in the study population and were associated with more severe injuries and more additional surgeries than injuries caused by other explosive weapons. 136 (54%) amputation injuries were caused by explosive weapons delivered by drone strikes, with explosives delivered by tanks being the next most common source of amputation injury (28 [11%]). Adjusted for age and sex, drone-delivered weapons caused significantly more severe injuries than explosives delivered by other mechanisms (eg, military jet airplanes, helicopters, tank shelling, and naval artillery). Drone-fired missiles resulted in major amputations in almost all victims who had limb losses.
- Major challenges treating bone injuries in Gaza.
Doctors Without Borders in the Gaza Strip have the arduous task of treating bone injuries in patients who were shot by the Israeli military during protests. Limited resources make it impossible to provide adequate treatment in many cases, making it necessary to refer patients to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip. However, legal obstacles complicate referrals outside of the territory, and MSF was only able to make its first referral this month. Patients with conflict related amputations experience longterm complications.
- Hospitals in Gaza are overwhelmed and running out of fuel.
Escalation of injuries during the Great March of Return has overwhelmed hospitals in Gaza, which are running out of emergency fuel as funding cuts by the Trump administration and subsequently the World Food Program endanger all civilians as well as patients. In one example, withdrawal of USAID funding will cause a large sewage project and school construction to be abandoned. United Nations humanitarian aid programs have been unable to function after being “undermined by campaigns for delegitimization of Israeli civil society groups ‘with the apparent support of the Israeli government.’”
- Injured Gazans travel to Egypt where they are shocked at poor level of care.
Hospitals in Gaza are running at minimum capacity. Palestinians injured during protests are consequently struggling to secure proper medical attention. With treatment in Israel and the occupied West Bank hindered or outright blocked by Israeli authorities, those traveling to Egypt for help have been shocked at the delays and shoddy treatment they have faced there.
- Fuel supplies are dangerously with increasing power outages.
Fuel supplies are running dangerously low in Gaza, and power outages are increasing, putting many of Gaza’s sick at risk. Abbas’s fuel embargo against Hamas has only exacerbated the Israeli siege, with electricity supply about 50 percent of what it should be.
- Netanyahu government blocks Qatari aid.
The Netanyahu government has blocked $15 million in Qatari aid from entering Gaza. This money funds food, electricity and basic services, all crucial to the health and wellbeing of Gazans.
- IDF has sprayed herbicides on Gaza 207 times since 2015.
The Israeli army continues to spray carcinogenic herbicides on agricultural fields inside the Gaza Strip, three years since +972 Magazine first reported on the practice. In January, three Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups sent a letter to Israeli military officials demanding they immediately cease spraying the herbicides into Gaza. The latest incident took place in early December and reportedly used Roundup, which is not safe and not intended for aerial spraying. The spraying is highly disruptive, causing (in addition to the health risks) huge losses to farmers’ crops – and it is a violation of Israeli and international human rights laws. Israel regularly bulldozes plants and trees inside a unilaterally imposed “no-go-zone” in order to “maintain a clear line of sight.” Since 2015, the Israeli army has crossed the fence to do this 207 times, an average of more than twice a week. “During the Vietnam war, the United States famously sprayed Agent Orange, napalm and other herbicides and defoliants to destroy vast swathes of jungle in Vietnam for military purposes. After the health and environmental effects of such practices became clearer, the international community initiated the Environmental Modification Convention restricting the use of herbicidal warfare, which came into force in 1978. Israel is not a party to the convention.” The Palestinian Authority ratified the Convention in 2017.
- PBS report on Gaza water crisis where 97% of water is undrinkable.
Watch the PBS report on the Gaza water crisis. In the Gaza Strip, 97 percent of freshwater is unsuitable for human consumption, and raw sewage pours into the Mediterranean Sea. Facilities for desalinating and treating water function on only a limited basis, as Israel controls the flow of fuel and supplies into the region. Israelis, too, could face consequences from contaminated water since water knows no boundaries.
- New York Times examines the killing of Gazan medic, Rouzan al-Najjar
“To the Palestinians, she was an innocent martyr killed in cold blood, an example of Israel’s disregard for Palestinian life. To the Israelis, she was part of a violent protest aimed at destroying their country, to which lethal force is a legitimate response as a last resort.”
- OCHA reports rising levels of home demolitions, up 10% in 2018.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory reported that Israel demolished or seized 460 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, during 2018, a 10 percent increase compared to the year before.
From 2006 through 2018, Israel demolished at least 1,401 Palestinian residential units in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem. This has left more than 6,200 people without their homes, including 3,134 minors.
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor issued a warning in October 2018 stating that if Israel destroyed Khan al-Ahmar, the Palestinian Bedouin village in the West Bank, it could constitute a war crime.
Activists claim the ongoing destruction of Palestinian structures in occupied Palestine is a key element of a general policy of ethnic cleansing, pushing Palestinians from their territories while expanding Jewish-Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
· Israeli settler hate crimes up 69% in 2018.
UN office: Israeli settler hate crimes against Palestinians rose 69% in 2018. OCHA recorded 265 incidents in which Israeli residents of the West Bank allegedly targeted Palestinians or their property. In total, 115 Palestinians were injured in those attacks and 7,900 trees and 540 vehicles were destroyed.
- Israeli settlers injure Palestinian journalist and a paramedic in Nablus district.
A Palestinian journalist and a paramedic were injured by Israeli forces’ fire as they escorted Israeli settlers raiding Joseph’s Tomb in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus. Spokesperson of the Palestinian Red Crescent, Ahmad Jibril, said that a Palestine TV reporter, identified as Bakr Abed al-Haq, was injured with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the leg, while paramedic Yassin Imran was injured in the face during clashes that erupted between Israeli forces and locals near Joseph’s Tomb. Journalist Abed al-Haq posted on his Facebook page that Israeli forces opened fire at him and his cameraman, Sameh Druzeh, both working for Palestine TV, along with nearby paramedic, while standing away from clashes and wearing their press vests.
- Israeli police raid Mokassed Hospital during 50th anniversary event.
Israeli police forces raided the Makassed Hospital Events Hall in occupied East Jerusalem and prevented the administration from holding an event marking 50 years for its establishment. The Makassed Hospital is the largest in the central occupied West Bank city of Jerusalem. A Ma’an reporter said that Israeli police forces raided the events hall before the start of the celebration and hung a notice on the door ordering closure of the hall, in addition to banning any activity to be held under the pretext that the event was held “under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.”
- Building permits are almost impossible to obtain and owners forced to self-demolish.
It is almost impossible for Palestinians in East Jerusalem to obtain building permits to build homes or add additions to existing homes. Israeli authorities not only issue demolition orders, but charge the home owner for the bulldozing of their own homes, forcing many to self-demolish to avoid high charges.
- PTSD is a Western concept says Palestinian psychiatrist.
Dr. Samah Jabr, chair of the mental health unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, states that the high rates of reported mental illness do not distinguish between psychological pain and social suffering. Many symptoms are a normal reaction to a pathogenic context. Similarly, there is no “post” in PTSD “because the trauma is repetitive and ongoing and continuous.” She defines good mental health in Palestine as: “To be able to have critical thinking, to maintain your capacity to empathize.”
- Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association–Quarterly Newsletter (October-December 2018)
The quarterly newsletter by Addameer focuses on the human rights issues of Palestinian prisoners. At the end of December 2018 there were 5500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, including 480 administrative detainees, 230 child detainees, 54 female prisoners and 8 Palestine Legislative Council members. Articles in the quarterly newsletter include updates on administrative detention, special groups including children and women prisoners, Jerusalemites, and a featured article on Palestine Legislative Council Member, Khalida Jarrar. Jarrar was arrested and placed on Administrative Detention in July 2017. The AD order has been renewed four times. Jarrar’s latest order for detention will expire in Feb. 2019, after 20 months of imprisonment. At that time, the Israeli military may extend it or release her. This Addameer newsletter also reports on measures the Israeli military is developing to further cut back on prisoners’ rights. Actions such as reducing the size of cells, longer periods in solitary confinement, removing educational materials, maintaining prisons on the Israel side of the Green Line (thus depriving prisoners of family visits), and greater surveillance in prisons are examples of these measures. Grave concerns about violations of international law are discussed. Prisoners are threatening a mass hunger strike.
- Palestinian child detention cases in the West Bank numbered 120 in 2018 and 57 children were killed.
75% of the children described physical abuse and more than half cited other forms of abuse and intimidation. During pre-trial detention, 22 children were held in isolation for at least 2 days. A year-end review by DCIP documented that 57 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces in 2018, 73% of those by live ammunition. At least 183 children (primarily in Gaza) suffered serious injuries, including 19 who sustained permanent disabilities.
- Dire cuts to food and medical aid cause havoc for Palestinians.
Due to US aid cuts, 90,000 Palestinians will not get food aid. The cuts of more than $200 million in development aid to the Palestinians is forcing nongovernmental organizations to slash programs and lay off staff. This includes the World Food Program which provided assistance to 250,000 Palestinians in Gaza and 110,000 in the West Bank in 2018, most experiencing dire poverty and food insecurity. In addition, funding has been cut for a five-year, $50 million program to provide health services, including clinical breast cancer treatment for some 16,000 women and treatment for some 700 children suffering from chronic diseases. USAID will end all projects January 31, 2019.
- Results of Israel’s open-fire policy.
In 2018, Israeli security forces killed 290 Palestinians, including 55 minors. Of these casualties, 254 were killed in Gaza and 34 in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and 2 in Israel. The incidents are a direct result of Israel’s open-fire policy, which theoretically permits live ammunition to be fired in only two situations: 1) shooting to kill is permitted when members of the security forces or other individuals are in life-threatening danger, and 2) security forces may only shoot at a person’s legs, as the last phase in an attempt to arrest the person in question, only after they have given warning. Israeli security forces routinely violate these regulations, which is what results in so many deaths.
- New apartheid road in the West Bank features 8 meter high wall separating Jewish from Palestinian drivers.
A new segregated highway in the occupied West Bank opened last week, including an eight-meter concrete wall separating Palestinian and Israeli drivers on either side. Labeled the “apartheid road” by critics, the official rationale behind segregated Route 4370’s is to alleviate traffic for Israeli settlers commuting to Jerusalem, and creating a new way for Palestinians to travel between the northern and southern West Bank. However, anti-occupation and human rights advocates say that the segregated highway is just another way Israel is creating Israeli-only areas — free of any Palestinian presence — within Palestine. Most troubling is that it is a sign that Israelis no longer view segregation as something to be ashamed of.
- Israeli Ministry of Health will stop covering some migrant children.
(Summarized from the Hebrew)
The Israeli Health Ministry has changed its policy and will stop covering migrant children whose parents’ visas have expired or whose applications for asylum do not qualify for group protection (i.e., they are not Eritreans or Sudanese). Thousands of children are expected to be affected. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) has received seven reports of Ethiopian children and two of Nigerian children who have been refused coverage by the Ministry of Health. The MOH stated that “the coverage arrangement with the Israeli HMO haMeuhedet was originally aimed at foreign children who were not from banned countries and whose parents were working here legally… or who held visas on humanitarian grounds.” For others, there were coverage options “in the market.”
The medical options for children who do not qualify for haMeuhedet’s coverage are significantly limited. Instead of group health insurance, parents will be forced to wait until their child requires urgent care, at which point they can go to an emergency room. However, once the child’s condition is stabilized, he will not qualify for further treatment. Insurance companies sell private policies, but they are expensive, short-term and offer limited coverage.
Israel’s National Insurance covers only citizens and residents of Israel. In 2001, the MOH decided to offer health coverage to minors who were not covered by the law, a decision anchored in the International Covenant on Children’s Rights. These children were entitled to haMeuhedet insurance at a cost of 120 shekels monthly per child or 240 shekels monthly for two or more children. According to Zoe Gutzheit of PHR, the new arrangement signals a serious retreat from the 2001 policy and from the medical and humanitarian ethics that should guide the ministry…” The article concludes by noting that the actual numbers of children without legal standing in Israel who were receiving insurance has fallen steadily since 2012.
· Antibiotic drug resistance in Gaza and the West Bank is emerging as significant health challenge.
Palestinian superbug epidemic could spread, say doctors. Medics say antibiotics shortage stops them following protocols to fight drug-resistant bacteria.
- Excellent resource on Cast Lead on the tenth anniversary of that Israeli assault.
Just World Educational
ISRAEL, WEST BANK, AND GAZA
- A Human Rights Watch systematic review of restrictions on human rights in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel.
- Al Haq documents human rights abuses related to the passage of the Nation State Bill.
Al-Haq issued a fact sheet delineating the human rights abuses of residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory as well as Palestinian citizens of Israel in the “Jewish Nation-State Law” decreed by the Israeli Knesset in July 2018. The fact sheet provides information on the impact of the law on Palestinians and the contravention of international law.
- Security guards at an Israeli hospital racially profile and investigate Palestinians and activists on a public bus.
Security guards at Barzilai Medical Center, an Israeli hospital in Ashkelon, detained 10 Arab and Jewish activists from the grassroots group Standing Together last weekend. The group was conducting a civil disobedience action at the entrance to the hospital to protest the hospital’s racial profiling policy which singles out, removes, and inspects Palestinians on a public bus line that runs through the hospital campus, including both Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of the West Bank and Gaza. The activists were removed from the bus at the entrance to the hospital after refusing to show their ID cards and demanding to know why the non-Arab passengers weren’t asked to show theirs. The security guards removed all of the activists from the bus and detained them until a senior hospital official released them.
“This kind of segregation is exactly what those behind the Jewish Nation-State Law had hoped for: to show Israeli society that there is legitimacy for discrimination in all aspects of life between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel,” said Standing Together activist Uri Weltmann. “We won’t accept racial segregation — not on buses nor anywhere else.” Since the practice was first publicized in a Facebook post last week, a number of Israeli human rights organizations have demanded that the hospital, the bus company, Israeli Health Ministry and Transportation Ministry, immediately stop the practice.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel also stated: “A medical institution is first and foremost obligated to the rules of medical ethics and respecting human dignity, and therefore is supposed to prevent any racist behavior within its gates.”
- Protests on the “security checks” on bus going to hospital.
(summarized from the Hebrew)
Protest has followed Sikhah Miqomit’s reportage on Ashkelon’s No. 18 bus policy of removing passengers with a “foreign” appearance for security checks before proceeding to the Barzilai Hospital. Approximately 2500 members of the organization “Zazim” (We’re On the Move) wrote letters to the hospital administration. The hospital has confirmed the practice but insists the policy extends only to removal of passengers with green ID cards (not Israeli citizens); however, at least one witness claims she has personally seen Israeli Arabs (blue ID cards) removed as well. Following publication of Sikhah Miqomit’s story (Translator: which was subsequently picked up by HaAretz), various civil and human rights groups have protested to the hospital, the Dan bus company, and the Ministry of Health. Referring to the thousands of signatures on their petition, Relika Ginah, speaking for Zazim, said “it is not enough that we wait for the situation to change.” Uri Narov, attorney for the Center for Victims of Racism, said that the removal of passengers on the basis of racial, ethnic, national or religious profiling… is illegal and discriminatory… it violates freedom of movement, dignity and equal rights…” Sari Araf, from Adalah has turned to the hospital administration, the ministries of health and transportation, and the Dan bus company, to protest this policy of racial profiling; Adalah and Physicians for Human Rights have also requested a copy of the hospital’s policy governing its security guards to explain a policy that is “racist, degrading and humiliating.”
- Netanyahu continues attacks on Africans living in Israel.
Despite shelving his most merciless anti-refugee plans, Netanyahu continued attacking Africans living in Israel. He remains among Israel’s top 10 leaders in its war against African refugees and is supported by a variety of politicians, religious leaders, and right wing activists.
- Israel Anti-Boycott Act in US congress.
The US Congress proposed legislation, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), would impose criminal penalties on businesses and nonprofits who stop doing business with Israel or Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. The West Bank settlements are unlawful under the 1949 Geneva Conventions that prohibit transferring civilians into occupied territory.
S. 720 expands the scope of the Export Administration Act (EAA), which prohibits Americans from joining boycotts against US allies “fostered or imposed” by a foreign country, to apply to boycotts called for by an “international government organization” like the United Nations. The increased scope appears to be a response to the UN High Commission for Human Rights which is naming businesses that have benefitted from settlements in the West Bank.
Human Rights Watch