December 2017 Media Watch – JVP Health Advisory Council
Welcome to the fourth edition of 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.
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!
Dr. Derek Summerfield reviews 20 years of trying to make the World Medical Association hold the Israeli Medical Association accountable for documented collaboration with Israel’s security services. The WMA has failed in its mandate to ensure that member associations abide by its ethical codes, including the anti-torture Declaration of Tokyo. The IMA is complicit in a system where detainees are tortured, ill-treated and humiliated in ways that place prison medical practice in conflict with medical ethics.
A Palestinian prisoner completely lost his vision after an inflammation in his eyes which damaged his corneas and retinas. His care by Israeli medical personnel was delayed and neglectful. This is one of many examples of substandard prison care.
The Israeli Prison Services allowed Palestinian prisoner Rajab Tahhan to see his teenage son, who is being treated for leukemia, for only 30 minutes at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Tahhan, who is serving a life sentence in Israeli prison, was cuffed from his hands and feet, and was not allowed to see any other family members during the visit. According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, as of August, there were 6,279 Palestinians in Israeli prison, 520 of whom were serving life sentences.
The right to education is a basic human right. Israeli forces have closed a school in East Jerusalem and a school in the south Hebron hills, humiliating teachers and traumatizing the students. At the same time in Gaza, approximately 831 academic and administrative staff are striking because the Palestinian Authority withdrew most of their salaries eight months ago. The staff continued to work. More recently the PA announced that the staff would be put on early retirement, then decided they would be “rehired but paid only the monthly retirement pension, which is less than 25% of their salaries.
On the anniversary of Universal Children’s Day, international NGO Save the Children released a statement highlighting ongoing the rights violations of Palestinian children in the occupied territory by Israel. “The challenges in the education sector reflect the increasing protection risks we are seeing across the occupied Palestinian territory,” said Jennifer Moorehead, the country director of Save the Children in the occupied Palestinian territory, adding “school demolitions, threats of violence and harassment, military presence in and around school premises and lack of adequate resources are all undermining children’s basic right to education…These children are being denied a future in areas where unemployment has risen to among the highest in the world and restrictions on movement make it difficult to get to school or university or access vital healthcare.”
The siege of Gaza affects the availability of unbroken courses of chemotherapy and has made radiotherapy unavailable on the Strip. Patients are required to travel to East Jerusalem for cancer treatment, but 45% of patients are denied permission or receive no response to their requests for permits. The majority of surgeons thus do total mastectomy and node dissection, a much more aggressive and mutilating surgical approach. Medical Aid for Palestinians has a project to bring multidisciplinary breast cancer specialists to the West Bank and Gaza.
Current UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the OPT, Canadian human rights legal professor Michael Lynk, called on the international community to “completely and finally end the occupation” by “appropriate diplomatic and legal strategies.” He based this on flagrant Israeli violation of all four foundations of international occupation law: open-ended occupation, annexation, acting against the best interests of the population, and thus violating UN and international law.
Lynk noted how the ongoing international community non-response in Palestine-Israel corrodes international law overall. “The international community has recoiled from answering Israel’s splintering of the Palestinian territory and disfiguring of the laws of occupation with the robust tools that international law and diplomacy provide. International law, along with the peoples of Palestine and Israel, has suffered in the process.”
The report lays out how the International Court of Justice, the possibility of prosecuting “grave breaches of the Geneva Convention”, and otherwise fulfilling international legal obligations and cooperation can end the “wrongful situation”. Israeli violations of over 140 UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions are enumerated. He noted Palestinian government support but Israeli blockage of UN Special Rapporteurs.
A $77 million budget shortfall–putting at risk decades-long food, health, housing and education support for now over 5 million Palestinian refugees–led to the responsible UN agency, UNRWA, to issue an urgent call for collective action. The UN agency’s 30-member international Advisory Commission inspected some of the 12 crowded refugee camps housing many of the 450,000 refugees in Lebanon since the 1940’s, and was briefed on deteriorating conditions throughout camps regionally. These include food insecurity and unemployment for a quarter of the refugees in the 19 West Bank camps—even higher than other West Bank residents–and a quarter million of the refugees in Jordan now at “highly vulnerable” status.
The Department of Education at AUB held a two day conference on mental health for disadvantaged youth and families in cooperation with a number of other agencies including the National Institution of Social Care and Vocational Training, better known as Beit Atfal Assumoud. Beit Atfal Assumoud offers numerous programs for Palestinian and Syrian refugees and disadvantaged Lebanese families.
Letter sent by the National Lawyers Guild International Committee to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, urging action in response to the humanitarian crisis for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip created by the siege on Gaza and the ongoing electricity crisis caused by punitive actions by Israel, the Occupying Power, as well as by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.