January 2019 Media Watch – JVP Health Advisory Council
January 1, 2019
Happy new year and 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!
- There is a large demand for prosthetic limbs in Gaza secondary to injuries during the Great March.
A prosthetic limb workshop in Gaza struggles to keep up with the demand. Recent increases in electricity and fuel has eased the burden slightly, but there are still challenges due to import restrictions and large and growing requirements.
- Gaza’s medical system is overwhelmed with injured patients.
Thousands of people shot by the Israeli army during protests in Gaza this year are overwhelming the Gazan medical system with complex wounds, infections, and disabilities, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today. At least 25 percent of Gazan patients with open fractures have bone infections, and about 60 percent of all those injured by gunshots will need further surgery, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation. 60% of protesters in Gaza treated for injuries were shot by Israeli forces in the legs. Mondoweiss
Doctors without Borders
· Update on injuries during the Friday protests
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights publishes a weekly statement regarding the Friday protests for Great March. It is searing reminder of the massive civilian casualties and injuries when unarmed protestors face a highly aggressive and militarized response. For instance, on December 7, Israeli forces wounded 72 civilians, including 11 children, 1 woman and 2 paramedics. 174 people have died since March 30. Aljazeera also published a week by week update.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
· Lower rates of approval for medical permits to leave Gaza.
The approval rate in October for Palestinians injured during protests near the Gaza border fence with Israel to exit Gaza through Erez (Beit Hanoun) crossing to access medical care in Jerusalem, the West Bank or Israeli hospitals was significantly lower. The World Health Organization (WHO) said in its monthly report on Health Access: Barriers for Patients in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, that October’s approval rate for injured Palestinians to receive medical treatment outside of Gaza was lower than the month’s overall approval rate.
- Analysis of Israeli commandos who infiltrated Gaza disguised as an NGO.
This is a detailed description and analysis of the Israeli commandos who exploited a Gaza NGO, The Al Basma Club for the Disabled as a front when infiltrating the Strip during a botched November raid. The Geneva Convention prohibits such activity because it raises suspicions against any and all such humanitarian efforts among the captive populations. This resulted in a gun battle with a Hamas patrol, massive IDF strikes, Hamas rocket fire into Israel, and a battle on social media networks as well as cyberhacking. Israeli censors actively fought the dissemination of this information. A Druze soldier died in the raid.
Aljazeera and Mondoweiss also published reports on this topic.
- A revealing and personal essay from a mother in Gaza.
“Our children are the victims we brought into this life in Gaza.” “Besides, with every escalation with Israel I wish if I never had children,” she said, “Gaza is not a safe place for children to grow up in.”
- Sandy Tolan explores whether Netanyahu may be changing his mind about war.
If he does, it will be thanks to an environmental and health disaster that threatens to cross the border.
- Ministry of Health sends supplies to beleaguered Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health dispatched from its warehouses in the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus, about 8.5 tons of medical aid donated by the Turkish Red Crescent to the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian Health Minister, Jawad Awwad, the ministry dispatched two truckloads of medical supplies worth $274,000, which included medicines to treat chronic diseases such as cancer and kidney diseases.
- Aida Camp program, Heath for Palestine, supports Community Health Workers
A program in the Aida Camp called Health for Palestine, supports Community Health Workers serving the 7,500 refugees living in Aida and Al Azza refugee camps, with a focus on home visits. Almost 50 percent of all deaths in the West Bank can be attributed to heart disease and strokes, both long-term consequences of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. There are many barriers to care and the CHW seek to educate and organize their patients in order to improve their chronic diseases. They work in collaboration with the Lajee Center and 1for3.org.
- Escalation of Israeli security and settle violence on the West Bank.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that the West Bank is witnessing the worst and most violent escalation by the Israeli forces and settlers in this year. Only within 48 hours, the Israeli forces killed 4 Palestinian civilians, including an elderly and 2 extra-judicially killed, and wounded dozens due to use of armed force against the peaceful demonstrators.
- Palestinian protestors demand an end to Palestinian Authority violence.
Palestinian protesters demand an end to the Palestinian Authority forces using batons to suppress protests in cities of Hebron and Nablus and preventing journalists from filming the incidents. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) responded to the PA’s actions against the rallies in Hebron and Nablus, in a statement saying the assaults were a “disgrace to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and its security services”. The Palestinian Bar Association also condemned the PA’s response.
- Israeli forces directly and indirectly target Palestinian patients with tear gas.
Several Palestinian patients at the Palestinian Medical Center in Ramallah City, in the central occupied West Bank, suffered severe tear-gas suffocation due to the heavy tear-gas fired by Israeli forces in the area. Head of the medical center, Dr. Ahmad al-Beitawi, condemned the direct and indirect targeting of patients and Palestinians inside the Palestine Medical Center, saying that it violates all international laws and statues.
- Humanitarian Health Digest (a joint project of The Lancet and Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health) discusses cited research on maternal mortality in Gaza. Three other citations touching on the Palestinian Territories are also included in this issue.
Understanding indirect impacts of conflict on health can save lives. Humanitarian Health Digest, Third Quarter 2018, p. 3. (Commentary by Hannah Tappis, Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health and JHPIEGO.)
One of ten commitments adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018 was a resolution calling on states to enhance their investments in initiatives to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and to protect sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls in humanitarian settings. Botcher and colleagues (cited in this issue) reported on maternal mortality that occurred in the July–August 2014 conflict in Gaza (a setting with relatively low maternal mortality burden), and for 10 months afterward. A few cases showed direct impacts of the conflict on women’s health and ability to reach care; most demonstrated impacts of structural and social determinants that are exacerbated by conflict and economic blockade. More research is needed to understand the impacts of resource constraints and security challenges during conflict, and how they impact healthcare provider motivation and performance in humanitarian settings.
(Humanitarian Health Digest, Third Quarter 2018, p. 7) Botcher B, Abu El Noor N, Aldabbour B, Naim F, Aljeesh Y. Maternal mortality in the Gaza strip: a look at causes and solutions. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2018;18: 396. doi:10.1186/s12884-018-2037-1.
(Humanitarian Health Digest, Third Quarter 2018, p. 7) Jonassen M, Shaheen A, Duraidi M, Qalalwa K, Jeune B, Bronnum-Hansen H. Socio-economic status and chronic disease in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: in and outside refugee camps. Int J Public Health 2018; 63: 875–82. doi:10.1007/s00038-018-1122-6.
(Humanitarian Health Digest, Third Quarter 2018, p. 7) Collier J, Kienzler H. Barriers to cardiovascular disease secondary prevention care in the West Bank, Palestine—a health professional perspective. Confl Health 2018; 12: 27. doi:10.1186/s13031-018-0165-x.
(Humanitarian Health Digest, Third Quarter 2018, p. 10) Afifi TD, Afifi WA, Acevedo Callejas M, Shahnazi A, White A, Nimah N. The functionality of communal coping in chronic uncertainty environments: the context of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Health Commun 2018; 1–12. doi:10.1080/10410236.2018.1514682
- USAID plans layoffs and program closures in oPt.
USAID plans to lay off over half its employees and close programs in the West Bank and Gaza by 2019. The agency provides assistance in various economic issues including water, infrastructure, education and healthcare. USAID also buys medical equipment, provides humanitarian assistance to those in need of medical care and teaches lifesaving techniques to doctors from Gaza and the West Bank via Israel and other countries. In recent years USAID has conducted in-service education for teachers, built schools and worked on projects to keep young Palestinians in the education system. This is part of the Trump administrations attempts to pressure Abbas to renew talks, but these efforts will provoke an even greater humanitarian crisis than currently exists.
Middle East Eye
Middle East Eye
- UNRWA facing severe funding crisis.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has provided support to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank since the 1950s. UNRWA is continuing to face a severe funding crisis. Conflict and violence, occupation, high levels of poverty, and other social determinants of health jeopardize the wellbeing of Palestine refugees. Health concerns include non-communicable diseases, mental health conditions, and access to hospital care. Given the increasingly volatile environment faced by this population, a multifaceted international response is needed to enable UNRWA to deliver sustainable services to Palestine refugees and avert further loss of life, dignity, and hope, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight in accordance with applicable international law and UN General Assembly resolutions.
- Report by Addameer on violations committed by Israeli Prison Services in 2017.
This report examines the violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces and the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) against Palestinians prisoners and detainees throughout the different stages of their arrest and detention in 2017, including collective punishment cases, extrajudicial killings and violations against women, children, and administrative detainees. The number of arrests during 2017 was approximately 6,500, of which 350 were children, 58 were women 9 of them being minors, 450 administrative detainees, 22 journalists and 11 deputies in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Thus, the Palestinian society witnessed an average of 18 arrests per day.
Topics in the report include:
Torture and degrading treatment during detention and interrogation
Arrest of children, women, and minors
Lack of fair trial including racism, inhibition of freedom of expression, use of the charge of “incitement”
Conditions in prisons
Collective hunger strikes
· Military attacks and incarcerations in the West Bank continue in 2018 and are not getting reported
One example is the collective punishment and repeated torture of members of the Na’alweh family from a village near Nablus.
- Psychiatrist, Samah Jabr, calls for professional solidarity with mental health providers and advocacy for Palestinian human rights.
Dr. Samah Jabr writes, “solidarity with the Palestinian people and advocacy for their human and national rights is just a therapeutic stand in the face of their collective historical trauma and is not limited to mental health professionals. Without such solidarity, the interventions of mental health professionals may do more harm than good as such interventions fail to be preventive, might pathologise the experience of Palestinians, medicalise their reactions and inhibit their agency, while maintaining the status quo of their pathogenic context.”
- Groups report numbers of Palestinian deaths since 2009 secondary to US-made weapons, in violation of Leahy Law.
An In These Times survey of detailed reports published by the United Nations, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reveals that, since 2009, at least 272 Palestinians appear to have been killed by U.S.-made weapons used by Israeli forces. U.S. arms exports to Israel (and other countries) are governed by laws placing restrictions on sales to nations that abuse human rights. Campaigns to cut U.S. military aid to Israel have latched onto a particular measure, known as the Leahy Law which is frequently violated. The law prohibits U.S. assistance or training from flowing to foreign military units that have committed a gross violation of human rights, unless the foreign government has held that unit accountable.
- Difficult realities for female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
This article describes the grim reality for female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and Israeli policies preventing family visits. Letters are also screened by prison intelligence. Sometimes detainees can hear their families’ voices and updates on Voice of Prisoners, a radio station that broadcasts a program that families of detainees use to send messages to their imprisoned relatives. While there are laws that allow fortnightly visits, strict procedures govern the issuing of visit permits for prisoners deemed to pose a security threat.
- B’Tselem and Al-Haq receive 2018 Human Rights Award and Israeli government vigorously objects.
The human rights watchdog organizations working to end the occupation — B’Tselem (Israeli) and Al-Haq (Palestinian) — were jointly presented with the 2018 Human Rights Award of the French Republic in December. They were among 5 recipients (others included NGOs from China, Colombia, Niger, and Belarus), all of whom were awarded the prize this year (the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) because they are organizations that are being harassed or pressured for defending and promoting human rights. The Israeli government tried to pressure the awards committee in France. According to Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem, “The hysterical response by Israeli government officials, attempting to prevent this prize from being awarded, illustrates the reality within which we work: propaganda, lies, and threats by a government which believes that silencing and coverup will enable further human rights violations. In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we are here not only to further expose the truth – but also to bring an end to the injustice.” What’s new and noteworthy is that an Israeli organization is being awarded a prize for being persecuted in its own country.
- Coalition of Jewish and Arab organizations protest gender violence in Israel.
Calling it a “state of emergency,” and led by the Red Flag Coalition, a coalition of over 50 Jewish and Arab feminist organizations, tens of thousands of women across Israel participated in a general strike on December 4th to protest government inaction over gender violence. Twenty-four women and girls have been murdered since the beginning of 2018. On average, 20 women and girls are killed in Israel every year due to domestic violence; the victims are primarily from marginalized communities in Israel. Strikers demanded the NIS 250 million (USD $66.2 million) in funding promised over a year ago for an emergency plan to prevent violence against women.
In an op-ed, lawyer and activist Maryam Hawari wrote about why she didn’t join the protests. “My identity as a woman is not detached from my identity as a Palestinian, so I can only rally behind a movement that calls to free women from all systems of oppression. I can only relate to an act of protest that undoes the privileges that other women enjoy as a result of my oppression.”
- Gabriel Schivone exposes the regional nexus in which the United States, Israel, and Mexico are partners in the “laboratory” that is the US-Mexico borderlands, developing military equipment for the US and Israel.
There is a long history of collaboration between US and Israeli defense establishments, whether it is the tear gas used against protesters by US border patrol agents and the IDF, the Hermes drone manufactured by Israel and used on the US southern border, fixed tower systems or Trump’s proposed wall. Journalist and author Gabriel Schivone has published widely on issues of human rights and homeland security technology along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as on the Israeli arms trade in Central America, the Mexican drug wars, and other topics. His book Making the New “Illegal”: How Decades of U.S. Involvement in Central America Triggered the Modern Wave of Immigration includes a chapter on Israel’s military role as a proxy for the United States in Guatemala’s “Dirty War.” He reports there is a “regional nexus in which the United States, Israel, and Mexico became partners in the “laboratory” that is the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, with its high-tech testing grounds in southern Arizona. They all loved the state/corporate idea of fusing Mexican low-wage manufacturing with Israeli boundary building and homeland security companies. [. . .]”
- USA Palestine Mental Health Network calls attention to four groups holding professional conferences in Israel.
The USA Palestine Mental Health Network continues to draw the attention of the mental health community to the human rights violations imposed by the state of Israel on the people of Palestine. They are engaged in four campaigns, calling attention to mental health groups holding annual meetings and professional conferences in Israel.
I RPP – International Association of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
Lacan – New Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis
ISPS – International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis
World Mediation Summit – Innovations in Conflict Resolution and Mediation
- Physicians and psychologists and torture.
When thinking about the use of torture in US policy, the role of physicians and psychologists, and the relationship to similar issues in Israel, I found this to be a useful resource on the Physicians for Human Rights website.
- Health needs of refugees and displace persons internationally.
This is a good broad summary of the unmet health needs of refugees and displaced persons internationally. The latest UN figures show that an unprecedented 68·5 million people were displaced by conflict or disaster at the end of 2017, of whom 53% were children. 25·4 million of these people are refugees, and 40 million are Internally Displaced People.