Millions of lives depend on it.
August 2018 Media Watch – JVP Health Advisory Council
Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource.
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UNRWA, the UN Palestinian refugee agency needs several hundred million dollars to fund projects until the end of the year, with extra pledges so far unable to counteract a massive slash in donations from the US. This financial crisis is affecting education, food assistance, sanitation, and health care. In many circles, UNRWA itself is being blamed for perpetuating the conflict by supporting the rights of Palestinian refugees and refusing to normalize the status quo.
Middle East Eye
In 2012, Israel approved 92% of medical permits for Gazans. In 2014, 82% of patients were allowed in. But, since the beginning of 2018, with no announcement of a change in policy, more than half of applications for medical permits from Gaza have been turned down or left unanswered. This has markedly reduced the ability of Gazan women to enter Israel for critically needed cancer treatment that is not available in the Strip. The Israeli government is tightening the siege, further impacting health care. “Instead of advancing, medical care and access in the Gaza Strip is moving backwards, against time.”
The Real News
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs-OPT
Defense of Children International
The Palestinian Ministry of Health began processing a shipment full of vaccines, cancer medicine, and required medical aid, worth one million dollars, that will be distributed to several warehouses in the besieged Gaza Strip. The destruction from three Israeli offensives over the past six years, including damage to the enclave’s water, sanitation, energy, and medical facilities, coupled with slow reconstruction due to the blockade led the UN in September to warn that Gaza could be “uninhabitable” by 2020.
This piece by UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) provides summary statistics on Palestinian casualties during Gaza’s “Great March of Return” and a link to OCHA’s report.
This is an excellent review of Palestinian nonviolent resistance, the political context and implications of Israeli policies. This is followed by an article discussing the increasing role of women in the Great March of Return. For the first time since the Great Return March demonstrations began on March 30th, religious and secular women together led one of the largest demonstrations to date on July 3rd along the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Since March 30th, Israeli snipers have killed over 100 and wounded thousands during these marches. During the July 3rd march, 124 people received medical care, mostly for tear gas inhalation, but also for gunshot wounds. A photographer from +972 was one of the wounded.
20-year-old Palestinian paramedic Rozan a-Najar was killed by Israel security forces on 6/1/2018 during a protest as part of the Return Marches in Gaza. B’Tselem has found that the Israeli forces fired deliberately on Palestinian paramedics—paramedics who were wearing medical crew uniforms, were holding their hands in the air, and were 25 meters from the fence. Rozan a-Najar was killed, and two others were wounded. The IDF tried to clear the military of responsibility for her death, stating initially that the soldiers did not fire at the place where she was located, then saying that she might have been killed by a ricochet, and finally accusing her of serving as a human shield for rioters. Rozan’s mother spoke about her daughter in testimony given to B’Tselem: “When people were called on to come to the Return Marches on the Gaza Strip border, Rozan was among the first to go help because she believed in humanitarian work. I saw her when she volunteeredat the protests. She flitted around like a butterfly, running back and forth to care for the injured. When Rozan was in the field, I was proud and calm, because she was a paramedic, and I believed the Israeli military wouldn’t harm her.”
Israel shut down Gaza’s ability to conduct trade because of flaming balloons and kites that Palestinians have been floating over the border. There is no security justification for halting commercial activity, just collective punishment.
Israeli military operations in Gaza in the past decade have been especially profitable for the country’s military industries. Both private companies and the Israeli government alike use Gaza as an opportunity to test new weapons, technologies and methods to be marketed based on their new operational success. The Israeli military industry exploits the occupation of Palestine, and specifically the siege on Gaza, as an arena to battle-test, invest in, and innovate military technology to later be marketed to the international community based on their effectiveness on Palestinian Civilians. This method, thoroughly explained in Yotam Feldman’s 2013 film “The Lab”, has been especially beneficial to Israeli military industries during the 2008-9, 2012 and 2014 attacks on Gaza. The Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) reviews the impacts on the Great March of Return.
Coalition of Women for Peace
Widespread movement restrictions during political conflict are a basic social determinant of poor health, according to the World Health Organization. Clea McNeely of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and her colleagues (from the New America think tank; the West Bank’s Birzeit University; the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and the World Health Organization’s office in Gaza) looked at the long-term association between health status in adulthood and Israeli-imposed restrictions on travel for medical care in the occupied Palestinian territories between 1987 and 2011. The study began with a general sample of 1,778 Palestinians aged 32 to 43 years, and analyzed a subsample of 246 individuals (53%) who had a serious medical condition and required travel for medical care. 65% of subjects experienced travel restrictions, and 38% were barred from travel for medical care. Those who were barred from travel reported worse self-rated health and greater limits on daily functioning—as long as 25 years after the travel restrictions. The study is noteworthy because it is the first time the population-based incidence of movement restrictions impeding access to medical care during a 25-year period were measured in a representative cohort of young people, as well as their long-term health status as adults.
The study was accompanied by two editorials, with opposing views on the study’s limitations and the role of the geopolitical issues.
Clea A. McNeely, Brian K. Barber, Rita Giacaman, Robert F. Belli, Mahmoud Daher, “Long-Term Health Consequences of Movement Restrictions for Palestinians, 1987–2011”, American Journal of Public Health 108, no. 1 (January 1, 2018): pp. 77-83.
The Palestinian West Bank village of Khan al-Ahmar is scheduled for razing so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place on land it has designated as “E1”. That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state. The Israeli government has been trying to destroy Khan al-Ahmar, including its eco-friendly school, and to evict its residents. The Israeli High Court of Justice issued an injunction against the village demolition last week, but the State asked the Court to exclude the school from the ruling, so that it could demolish it and prevent the school year (which normally begins 9/1) from starting early. Palestinian leaders and schoolchildren organized and started school early to make it difficult for Israel to justify destroying the school while the school year was already under way. Israeli forces sealed off the entrances to Khan al-Ahmar with cement blocks and prevented a mobile clinic belonging to the Palestinian Medical Relief Society from entering the area to provide medical care for patients, including people suffering from chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Although international humanitarian law prohibits the demolition of the village and illegal confiscation of private property, Israeli forces continue their planned expansion by forcing evictions and violating basic human rights of the people.
The Palestinian human rights group for prisoners, Addameer, issued a report summarizing arrests of political prisoners for the month of May 2018. According to a joint report from Addameer and Al Mezen Center for Human Rights, 605 Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli military in May. 94 were children and 9 were women. The report summarizes the abuses faced by political prisoners, specific concerns about children in prison, and the use of Administrative Detention–imprisonment without due process. The joint report also summarizes the circumstances of several of the arrests, conditions of prisoners and gives an up to date count of Palestinian political prisoners.
On July 19th the Knesset passed the contentious “Jewish Nation-State Law”. The law defines Israel as the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people and demotes the official status of the Arabic language. Many Palestinian rights groups are describing the law as featuring “key elements of apartheid” and creating “a state that belongs only to some of its citizens”. “The law itself does not mention the word democracy even once,” says Fady Khoury, an attorney for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. “I think we are seeing an escalation that…is a result of the contradiction between the fundamental identities of the state as Jewish and democratic. What we are seeing now is Jewish identity encroaching more and more on the social and political life of Israel’s citizens, while the ‘democratic’ identity of the state is experiencing a regression.” Palestinian lawmakers are hailing this as apartheid and the official demise of any pretense of democracy.
New York Times
Middle East Eye
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) issued a report on the continued use of torture in Israel within the security system. Methods include sleep deprivation, positional torture, physical violence, threats to the prisoner and family members, sexual humiliation and assault.
It is usually very difficult for secular conscientious objectors (COs) in Israel—those who refuse to be drafted into Israel’s compulsory military service due to their opposition to the occupation—to be recognized and granted CO status. Religious Jews who are COs are released with little difficulty, but secular COs usually have to undergo a long and difficult process to convince the IDF to discharge them. It usually ends with jail time, which can last up to 150 days. If they are able to obtain a discharge, they usually are not recognized as COs and are instead discharged for other reasons: “serious misconduct,” “unsuitability,” or various psychological exemptions. A new lawsuit seeks to challenge the IDF’s discriminatory treatment of secular COs. Ayelet Brachfeld, a high school student who had signed on to the lawsuit, was released on July 3rd after being held for four separate prison terms totaling 100 days. Upon leaving prison, Brachfeld said that as an Israeli, she has the responsibility to do “everything I can to stop this cycle of bloodshed. Refusing is my first step.”
As part of “Not Just a Free Trip”—direct actions this summer by American anti-occupation group IfNotNow to challenge the Birthright narrative—eight Birthright participants walked off of their trip last week in order to learn more about the Occupation on a tour of Hebron with Breaking the Silence (BtS). Settlers harassed them for over half an hour, culminating with a settler child throwing paint onto the BtS tour leader’s head. These incidents of harassment are routine, as the settlers try to disrupt and drown out the BtS tours that take place in the city. Eight Israeli soldiers who were present did not do anything to stop the child, yet numerous incidents of Israeli soldiers detaining Palestinian children as young as 5 in Hebron have been reported.
Argentine former soccer star Diego Armando Maradona met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during the recent World Cup. Maradona expressed his sympathy with the Palestinian people’s cause and on his Instagram account, added “I am Palestinian.”
A joint statement has been issued by dozens of Jewish groups in several countries offering their support to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement stating that their support of BDS does not amount to antisemitism.
“As social justice organizations from around the world, we write this letter with growing alarm regarding the targeting of organizations that support Palestinian rights in general and the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, in particular,” the letter began.
Valdivia, a relatively small city in southern Chile, became the first city in all of Latin America to officially join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. The vote to adopt the boycott at the city level was taken unanimously by the local government. The measure adopted by the city specifically declares the municipality as an “Apartheid Free Zone” and prohibits the city from working with any business that benefits or is linked to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and/or Israel’s apartheid policy that targets Palestinians.The initiative is similar to those adopted by several European cities. However, Valdivia is the first city to adopt the measure in Latin America.
Mint Press News
July 9th 2018 is the thirteenth year of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, which was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. Due to international BDS efforts, several multinational corporations, performance artists, local government councils in Europe and in Latin America, have adopted BDS. and ended their ties with Israel. In India, the BDS movement has demonstrated it global strength as had the recently launched Indian campaign to boycott Hewlett Packard. The history of BDS including the 2005 “Palestinian Civil SocietyCall for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel”, is discussed.
The Dawn News
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