letter to Borrel

Brussels, 25 November 2021
Dear High Representative,
As organisations based in Europe, we would like to alert you to the extremely serious situation created by the slander of the State of Israel against six of the most important and internationally renowned Palestinian human rights organisations: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al Haq – Law in the service of men, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
After their classification as “terrorists” on 22 October, and with the subsequent military banning order on 7 November, they are in great danger: their premises may be invaded or closed down, their equipment confiscated, their leaders and staff arrested and their funding is put in danger. The protection services they provide to the Palestinian population, as well as their ability to inform international bodies about human rights violations in Palestine, are themselves jeopardised by this decision. The European Union must remain true to its own values; it must protect them.
The statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on October 28 was not commensurate with the gravity of this threat. By stating that the EU “takes such allegations extremely serious” and by “engaging Israeli authorities for more information”, it gives weight to allegations against partners that the European Union has known perfectly well for years, and it legitimises the idea that the State of Israel would have a legitimate reason to take up the issue. This is doubly false: firstly because these organisations are subject to Palestinian law, and the State of Israel has no business declaring them as unlawful, and secondly because the Israeli leaders who accuse them are the same ones who could be implicated by the ICC procedures, which themselves could be based on the information and investigation files provided by these NGOs.
We therefore ask you first of all for a much clearer public statement on this issue. In particular, we ask you to:
 clearly reject the Israeli allegations and question their legitimacy,
 publicly renew your confidence in these human rights organisations, which are doing
remarkable and indispensable work on the ground,
 formally ask the Israeli government to reverse its decisions to designate and subsequently ban
them,
 inform all donors and financial intermediaries of your rejection of the decisions taken by the
State of Israel and of your confidence in the NGOs in question,
 officially receive, at your level, the leaders of these NGOs and assure them of your full
support,
 publicly and financially support the action of the ICC including the case for Palestine.
Beyond this indispensable statement, it is necessary to take action.
The first act that you can take, together with the European Commission of which you are Vice-President, concerns the agreement to include Israel in the Horizon Europe research and development programme. While one can imagine that even the simple respect of the July 2013 guidelines was not frankly approved by Israel, the Commission probably wanted to make a “positive gesture” towards Israel by declaring on 18 October that the negotiations were over. We know the result: four days later, the State of Israel launched the most serious offensive in history against Palestinian human rights organisations. And a few days later, on 30 October, the Israeli ambassador tore up the report of the
UN Human Rights Committee at the UN.
In such a context, the signing of this agreement, scheduled for 9 December, would be a disgrace for Europe. We ask you, Mr. High Representative, to take the necessary measures to suspend the signing of this agreement. This is a simple measure of decency. Beyond that, more binding measures will have to be taken if the State of Israel persists in its position.
Sincerely,
1. European Coordination of Committees and Association for Palestine (ECCP) – Europe
2. Fédération Internationale pour les droits humains – FIDH
3. Trócaire – Ireland,
4. Sinn Féin – political party – Ireland,
5. Europe Ecologie Les Verts – political party – France,
6. Confédération générale du travail (CGT) – trade union – France,
7. FIOM-CGIL – trade union – Italy,
8. Irish Congress of Trade Unions – trade union confederation,
9. Unite the Union, Ireland Region – trade union,
10. Unison Northern Ireland – trade union,
11. People Before Profit – political party, Ireland,
12. Parti Communiste Français (PCF) – political party – France,
13. Parti de Gauche – political party – France
14. Ensemble! – political party – France,
15. BIJ1 (Political party) – Netherlands,
16. Mouvement des Jeunes Communistes de France – political party, France
17. Confédération Paysanne – trade union- France,
18. Fórsa/SENO branch – trade union – Ireland,
19. Belfast and District Trades Union Council – trade union – Ireland,
20. Trade Union Friends of Palestine – Ireland,
21. MOC – Movement of Christian Workers – trade union – Belgium,
22. Union syndicale Solidaires – trade union – France,
23. Craigavon Council of Trade Unions – trade union – UK,
24. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) – MENA
25. European Coordination Via Campesina – Europe
26. European Trade Union Network for Justice in Palestine – Europe
27. Sadaka – The Ireland Palestine Alliance,
28. Ligue des droits de l’Homme (LDH) – France,
29. Suomen Rauhanpuolustajat – Finnish Peace Committee,
30. Defence for Children International – Switzerland,
31. Defence for Children International – Belgium,
32. Students for Justice in Palestine Dublin City University – Ireland,
33. Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU) – France
34. MRAP – France,
35. Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
36. The Rights Forum – Netherlands
37. Jewish Voice for Just Peace Ireland,
38. Centre for Global Education – Ireland,
39. Cairde Palestine Belfast – Ireland,
40. Gaza Action Ireland,
41. Academics for Palestine- Ireland,
42. MENA GROUP/Rete in difesa di (diritti umani e chi li difende) – Italy,
43. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS),
44. Union des Progressistes Juifs de Belgique (UPJB) – Belgium
45. Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
– France,
46. British Committee for the Universities of Palestine – UK,
47. Plateforme des ONGs Françaises pour la Palestine – France,
48. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Finland,
49. Humanitas-Centre for global learning and cooperation – Slovenia,
50. Association Belgo-Palestinienne – Belgium,
51. France Palestine Mental Health Network – France,
52. Viva Salud – Belgium,
53. Union Juive Française pour la Paix – France,
54. ICAHD Finland,
55. Deutscher Koordinationskreis Palastina Israel(KOPI) – Germany,
56. European Legal Support Center – Netherlands,
57. Comite Pour Une Paix Juste Au Proche Orient – Luxembourg,
58. Cultura è libertà, una campagna per la Palestina – Italy,
59. AssopacePalestina – Italy,
60. docP – BDS Nederland,
61. Nederlands Palestina Komitee,
62. Buendnis fuer Gerechtigkeit zwischen Israelis und Palaestinensern e.V. BIPGermany,
63. BDS Berlin, Germany,
64. Finnish-Arab Friendship Society,
65. Association pour le jumelage entre les camps de réfugiés palestiniens et les villes françaises
(AJPF) – France,
66. Pand – Performars and Artists for Peace, Finland,
67. Društvo UP Jesenice – Slovenia,
68. Belgian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (BACBI),
69. Mouvement de la Paix – France,
70. Une Autre Voix Juive – France,
71. Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France,
72. Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine, France,
73. Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté des deux Rives (FTCR), France
74. Vrede vzw – Belgium,
75. Dynamo International – Belgium,
76. Les Femmes en Noir – France,
77. Rete Romana di Solidarietà con il Popolo Palestinese – Italy,
78. Rete Antirazzista – Firenze, Italy,
79. Association France Palestine Solidarité Nîmes, France,
80. Association “Pour Jérusalem” – France,
81. Odv Salaam Ragazzi Dell’Olivo Comitato Di Tireste – Italy,
82. Forum Palestine Citoyenneté – France,
83. Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix réelle au Proche-Orient – France
84. Assopace Palestina Firenze – Italy,
85. Chrétiens de la Méditerranée – France,
86. Associazione Cinema e Diritti – Italy,
87. Associazione di Amicizia Italo-Palestinese NLUS – Italy,
88. Comitato Pistoiese per la Palestina – Italy,
89. Donne in nero Italia – Italy,
90. COSPE – Italy,
91. CRED – centro di ricerca ed elaborazione per la democrazia – Italy,
92. Campagna Ponti e non Muri di Pax Christi Italia – Italy,
93. Giuristi Democratici – Italy,
94. CPPI Saint-Denis [ Collectif Paix Palestine Israël] – France,
95. New Weapons Research Group – Italy,
96. Women in Black Vienna – Austria
97. Slovene Philanthropy, Slovenia,
98. Not in Our Name – For a Just Peace in the Middle East, Czech Republic
99. Collectif Faty Koumba – France,
100. La Courneuve Palestine – France,
101.Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie, France
102.BDS Italia
103.Stichting – Groningen-Jabalya – Netherlands
104.UK-Palestine Mental Health Network – UK,
105.Wilpf – Finland,
106.Ipri-ccp – Italy,
107.Comunità delle Piagge – Italy,
108.Aderisco a nome del Comitato varesino er la Palestina – Italy,
109.Pro Palestina – Italy,
110.Stradafacendo – Italy,

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Gaza: EU must act to stop the blockade immediately and unconditionally

The Gaza Strip, 365 square kilometers enclave, has been under a blockade by Israel since 2007 through land, air and sea. By maintaining the total control over the land and all aspects of Palestinian life in Gaza, Israel exercises its most extreme form of occupation there. In this densely populated area about 2 million people have been kept captive, denied of basic human rights for 15 years.

This blockade impacts all the aspects of the population’s daily life and it consolidates the fragmentation of the territorial and political Palestine, undermining dignified life and self-determination for the people.

Severe restriction on freedom of movement for people and goods, loss of agricultural land arbitrary declared “buffer zone”, tight restrictions over the fishing zone, severely affected economic activities, and led Gaza’s economy to a sharp decline without means to recover and develop1. Egypt’s restriction on its border with Gaza made the blockade even tighter. Most of the people in Gaza lost their activities and livelihood, while farmers and fishermen also routinely got shot while trying to access their land and sea.

This dire condition was aggravated by a periodic pattern of military attacks. Four major military attacks (2008-2009, 2012, 2014, 2021) caused a staggering human and material loss (Annex). Very basic human rights, such as right to life, freedom and safety are denied to the Gaza population. The human toll and the destruction of livelihood, civilian infrastructure such as power plants, water and sanitation facilities, housings and business affect every aspect of the daily life of the whole population, leading to a collapse of essential services such as health care and education, of the living standard and of the environment. The combined impact of unprecedentedly lengthy period of blockade, aggravated by cyclical military offensives on the economic, social and environmental aspect, has been catastrophic. This disaster has been documented in numerous reports by the UN and NGOs. Already in 2015, the UN warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020 2.

All these consequences were not unexpected to the Israeli government, but openly sought for as a systematic and deliberate policy to maintain political and territorial fragmentation of Palestine3, and to provoke the collapse of Gaza as a part of Israel’s strategy including “demographic engineering” 4.

The May 2021 assault was particularly devastating, as it hit Gaza crippling under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic and still suffering from previous round of traumas. Hospitals were already strained in a middle of a chronic crisis with shortage of medicines, equipment, resources, and training. Numerous reports emphasize the cumulative effects of prolonged traumas particularly inflicted upon children that constitute 50% of Gaza’s population. Aid agencies including the World Bank issued unprecedented statements, emphasizing the need for systematic policy efforts5, which reflect their acknowledgement for an urgent need for a new political approach.

War crimes and crimes against humanity

The blockade and indiscriminate military attacks on Gaza constitute a collective punishment, forbidden by international law (1977 Additional Protocol II), and a war crime under the 1949 Geneva convention. It is an integral part of the Israeli policy to perpetuate ethnic dominance, defined as crime of Apartheid and crime of persecution, which both fall under category of crimes against humanity and are documented in recent reports of human rights organizations 6, 7.

During the four military operations, hospitals, schools, medics and journalists were also targeted, which constitute war crimes. In addition to these major offensives, unarmed protesters demanding the end of blockade from March 2018 to 2019 were met with brutal military repression again resulting in high mortality and injuries, again including children, women, elders, and clearly labeled medics and press 8. These war crime allegations are described in volumes of reports including those by the UN 9. Currently the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates numerous allegations10. That all is to be added to the disregard by Israel of its obligation as the occupying power to guarantee the safety of people under occupation.

Israel tries to justify its policy citing “security concern”. However, depriving 2 million civilian population of their basic human rights, destroying public infrastructures and private properties and sources of livelihood, shooting civilians, farmers and fishermen have nothing to do with security, but are clearly meant as punitive measures. Their narrative of “self-defense” is not backed by legal standard. The international human rights norms prohibit the use of lethal force except in situations when it is necessary to prevent an imminent threat of death or serious injury11. Indiscriminate aerial attacks on residential area, intentional targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, killing during popular protests unarmed protesters, even disabled persons, clearly marked medics and journalists at work, cannot be justified as “self-defense”.

There is no justification to those acts of war crime and crimes against humanity committed by Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza. All these are clear violations of international law, while total impunity has been enjoyed by the government of Israel and by those directly responsible in perpetuating the injustice. This status quo of the blockade cannot remain crystallized after 15 years and is incompatible with the prospect of right-based solution.

An urgent need for a change of perspective from the international community

The alarming conditions, finally acknowledged as not repairable under the blockade, need a change in perspective from the “support for emergency” to an end to the chronic man-made disaster. Current vicious circle of destruction by Israel and emergency reconstruction by international donors has proven to be futile under the exacerbating blockade and amounts to a continuing denial of freedom and self-determination of the population.

Although needed, emergency relief alone cannot grant long term viability and reconstruction. Worse, it makes the international donors as an unwilling partner in crime by contributing to the perpetuation of this vicious cycle by paying the repair to be destroyed again. UN institutions, rapporteurs and numerous NGOs have expressed the need for “tackling the root cause”, identified in the blockade and relentless persecution and called for “serious political effort” 12, 13

The intolerable suffering inflicted upon Palestinians trapped captive in Gaza has reached its breaking point. The matter of urgency is paramount and justifies no further delay in taking political decisions. The Israeli rhetoric of blaming “the terrorists” does not conveniently wipe out these war crime allegations.

Time has passed for the international community to blindly accept the deceptive excuse of “Security of Israel” that lacks legal basis according to numerous documentation11. Security of Israel can only be achieved when the security of Palestinians is also guaranteed. This means the end to injustice and repression. 15 years of failure on Gaza (or 54 years regarding the OPT) compels international community to adopt a radical paradigm shift guided by principles of international law. This is the path also suggested by the UN expert group14.

Our demands and recommendations to EU and member states

We demand the EU and its member states to uphold their moral and legal obligations to work towards the immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade guided by the principles of international law, and therefore:

  1. Acknowledge a paradigm shift regarding the blockade of Gaza: the situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza is so catastrophic that no condition can be accepted from the occupying power, Israel, to lift the blockade. It is necessary to recall that the blockade has brought no security, neither for Israel, nor for the Palestinians.

  2. Demand to the government of Israel, as the occupying power, an immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade.

    1. Unrestricted passage of people and goods between Gaza and West Bank and the rest of the world,

    2. Removal of the buffer-zone and restriction on fishing zones.

  3. Set these demands as conditions in all agreements in the field of political, diplomatic, cultural and economic relation with Israel. Prepare a mandatory time frame for a complete relief of the blockade with verifiable intermediate steps; adopt the principle of sanctions if the timeframe is not respected.

  4. Call the Egyptian authorities to stop the limiting measures to circulation of persons and goods, agree on compulsory steps on Egypt’s side.

  5. Establish discussion channels of direct interlocution with all the Palestinian counterparts to facilitate the furthering of the process.

  6. Support the International Criminal court and the other investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity, including those by the UN rapporteurs and by the special commission of UNHRC.

References:

  1. https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/a75d310_en_1.pdf

  2. https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/tdb62d3_en.pdf

  3. https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Netanyahu-Money-to-Hamas-part-of-strategy-to-keep-Palestinians-divided-583082

  4. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/sharon-maintains-control-in-face-of-demographic-shift-1.482484

  5. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/westbankandgaza/publication/the-gaza-2021-rapid-damage-and-needs-assessment-june-2021

  6. https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution

  7. https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid

  8. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj1j8fn-urzAhXkCmMBHSE8CV4QFnoECAIQAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.unrwa.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fcontent%2Fresources%2Fgaza_gmr_one_year_on_report_eng_final.pdf&usg=AOvVaw1Elmxwvz5mbJodpGS4keA9

  9. https://www.un.org/unispal/document/two-years-on-people-injured-and-traumatized-during-the-great-march-of-return-are-still-struggling/

  10. https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=210303-prosecutor-statement-investigation-palestine

  11. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/03/israel-gaza-killings-unlawful-calculated

  12. https://unsco.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/security_council_briefing_-_30_august_2021_0.pdf

  13. https://www.amnesty.org/en/petition/end-the-violence-in-occupied-palestinian-territories/

  14. https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=27102&LangID=E

    Annex

    Summary of the military attacks on Gaza

     

    December 2008-January 2009

    November 2012

    July -August 2014

    May 2021*

    The Duration (days)

    22

    8

    55

    12

    Palestinians killed

    1,409

    167

    2,251

    254

    Unarmed Palestinian civilians killed

    1,172

    87

    1,462

    at least 129

    Palestinian children killed

    348

    32

    551

    66

    Palestinians injured

    5,380

    5,000

    11,231

    2.212 (610 children, 398 women)

    Israeli soldiers killed

    10

    Na

    67

    na

    Israeli civilians killed

    3

    Na

    6

    12 (2 children)

    Houses damaged/destroyed in Gaza

    14,000

    2,174

    18,000

    2.000/15.000

    Displaced persons

    28,000

    10,000

    500,000

    107,000

    Ppeople without access to municipal water

    Na

    Na

    450,000

    800,000

    *https://www.ochaopt.org/content/gaza-strip-escalation-hostilities-10-21-may-202

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GAZA CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 12-11-21

coronavirus gaza update 12-11-21
Source: Ministry of Health, Gaza

 

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Support for neonatal infectious disease screening in the Gaza Strip, Palestine

We are pleased to announce the start of the new project by NWRG for 2022, supported by funds from Otto per Mille of the Waldensian Church.

The program will take place in the hospital wards of Neonatal Intensive Care, in collaboration with the local Ministry of Health.

The project aims to detect cases of neonatal sepsis and identify the causes in order to assign adequate therapy to those affected.

Neonatal sepsis is a blood infection and the leading cause of death of newborns: it accounts for about 50% of neonatal lethality cases among those hospitalized in intensive care units. Acting quickly can prevent death or permanent damage to the newborn, such as irreversible brain damage, developmental delay, epilepsy, or damage to other organs. Sepsis can be addressed with immediate identification and targeted antibiotic therapy. Gaza currently lacks the material safeguards to do so.

In Gaza, about 70,000 babies are born a year and 10% are hospitalized in intensive care units; of these about 50% are at risk or have sepsis.

Hence the motivation of our project. The contribution will therefore potentially protect / save about 3,500 newborns a year from the consequences of this infection.

Sepsis diagnostic materials are currently in zero stock. By providing the materials for laboratory diagnosis, since protocols and personnel are already available, we can immediately promote the continuity of a life-saving service. The analyzes that can be done are also necessary to identify the most appropriate antibiotic therapy, given the high prevalence of bacterial strains, the first responsible for sepsis, which are resistant to a large number of common antibiotics.

Our group, having collaborated scientifically for 10 years in projects in the maternity wards of Gaza, is documented on the importance of maintaining the program of diagnosis and treatment of neonatal sepsis.

 

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from Al Mezan Center for Uman Rights

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GAZA CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 27-10-21

coronavirus gaza update 27-10-21
Source: Ministry of Health, Gaza

As of the 26/10/2021, 472.588 people have been vaccinated and the number of seriously hill cases is steady around 100 every day since the 20th . The daily deaths of Covid patients have been below 12 and most often less than 10 for the whole month of October. Facilities and supplies remain short.

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A nightmare for Gaza’s young doctors

Abeer Ghirbawi had never worked amid such tension before.

 

Abeer Ghirbawi, a surgeon at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, was pregnant with her first children during Israel’s May attack. (Jamileh Tawfiq)

 

When Israel began bombing Gaza in May, an older doctor gathered her and other colleagues in al-Shifa hospital.The older doctor tried to give everyone some emotional support and prepare them for the horrors about to unfold. It was the first time that Ghirbawi, a 28-year-old surgeon, had been on medical duty during a major offensive against Gaza.“Soon enough, the hospital was full of dead bodies and injured people in need of immediate care,” Ghirbawi said. “Yes, it was harder than I had imagined. But I had to focus on saving as many lives as I could – no matter how horrible the scene was. I had already known that working in such situations was a part of my job. But I was surprised by my own endurance.”Ghirbawi was in a different situation to many other colleagues. She was pregnant with her first child.“To be honest, I almost forgot I was pregnant,” said Ghirbawi, who has subsequently given birth. “I was lucky to have my husband by my side. He is also a doctor in the same department. Being together at the hospital was comforting. But both of our families were worried about us.”She and her husband were only able to go home twice during the 11 days of the attack.The area around al-Shifa hospital witnessed some of the worst violence.Al-Shifa is located close to al-Wihda street in Gaza City, where Israel carried out a massacre on 16 May. Israel’s bombardment left a large crater in the road leading to the hospital.Because of that crater, ambulances were obstructed from traveling to and from al-Shifa.

 

“Frightened and stressed”

Despite their best efforts to remain focused and motivated, the staff at al-Shifa were devastated to learn that one of their colleagues was among more than 40 people killed in that massacre.

 

Mustafa Abu Foudah worked in the intensive care unit of al-Shifa hospital during the Israeli attack. (Jamileh Tawfiq)

 

Dr. Ayman Abu al-Ouf, head of internal medicine at the hospital, had just returned home after a day’s work when his neighborhood was attacked without warning. He, his wife and two of their children were killed – along with both his parents and many relatives.Ayman Abu al-Ouf’s son Omar was injured in the massacre. Unlike his parents and siblings, he survived.Mustafa Abu Foudah, 27, works in al-Shifa’s intensive care unit, where Omar was treated.”We had no clue,” Abu Foudah said, how to tell Omar that so many of his family had been wiped out. “I can hardly describe that incident.”The intensive care unit’s resources were already under strain before Israel’s May attack. Its staff were busy taking care of patients with COVID-19.“It was very challenging for us to deal with COVID-19 and Israel’s assault at the same time,” Abu Foudah said. “We had to move COVID patients to other hospitals so that we could limit the infection and control the situation. It was a complete mess. We were all frightened and stressed. But we managed to arrange everything in less than an hour – which was extremely fast under the circumstances.”Abu Foudah had major worries of his own when the attack occurred. His father was unwell and has subsequently died.“I was scared something bad might happen to him when I was not home,” Abu Foudah added. “At the same time, I had to concentrate on my work at the ICU which is a big responsibility. I was torn between my duty to my sick father – who supported me to become a doctor – and my professional and national duties.”

“Totally stunned”

Today, the intensive care unit is again treating patients with COVID-19. Yet nobody can forget about the terrible days of May.

 

 

Muhammad Ziara was on duty in al-Shifa hospital when Israel carried out a massacre nearby. (Jamileh Tawfiq)

 

“I can still remember the smell of the war, the smells after the bombings were suffocating,” said Abu Foudah. “And the blood on the hospital floor. I can also remember the fear in people’s eyes, whether they were patients or doctors. We could feel that this assault was different [to the three other Israeli attacks since December 2008]. The bombings were so close to the center of Gaza City. It was beyond our abilities to imagine or cope with the destruction.”Muhammad Ziara, 34, is a surgeon at al-Shifa. He had previously worked as a doctor during Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza in 2014.Although the attack in May this year was shorter in duration, Ziara concurs that it involved more targeting of Gaza City, including the neighborhood around the hospital.As the bombardment of al-Wihda street began in the early hours of 16 May, Ziara was about to have a coffee break. He was at the hospital gate and heading toward a cafe across the road, when he heard loud explosions.“I was totally stunned,” he said. “I didn’t know which way to go. The sounds were horrifying and it was hard to tell where exactly they were bombing. I took out my phone and started filming.”“Honestly, those were the longest two minutes of my entire life,” he added. “Then I found myself running back to the hospital so that we could admit the injured and the bodies of people who had been killed.”Ziara acknowledges that he remains in shock. “I am trying to look after my mental health,” he said. “The period after each attack isn’t easier than the attack itself.”Like many others in Gaza, Ziara fears that Israel will launch another major attack within the next few years.“Nobody wants to live through such a nightmare again – or even imagine it,” he said.

“But, as doctors, we always must be ready. This is part of our lives.”

 

 

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Gazans Are Being Poisoned Slowly As Result Of Israel’s Long Siege

Besieged Gaza (Palestine Online)- International organizations have warned that the Gaza population is slowly poisoned as 97 percent of the water in the coastal enclave has become undrinkable as a result of long years of tight Israeli blockade.

This came in a joint oral statement released on Monday by Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and the Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH) during the 48th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).

“Euro-Med Monitor and GIWEH would like to draw your attention to the severe deterioration in the Gaza Strip’s water security, mainly due to Israel’s prolonged siege, punctuated by periodic military assaults,” a spokesman for the two organizations said, addressing HRC.

“It is now well established that 97 percent of Gaza’s water has become contaminated, a situation made substantially worse by an acute electricity crisis that stifles the operation of water wells and sewage treatment plants, leading about 80 percent of Gaza’s untreated sewage to be discharged into the sea while 20 percent seeps into underground water.”

“Further compounding this water crisis is Israel’s attacks on Gaza last May that substantially pounded the enclave’s already decaying infrastructure, especially in the water sector.”

“This water crisis presents a serious threat to the beleaguered population’s health, where recent data indicates that about a quarter of the diseases spread in Gaza are caused by water pollution, and 12 percent of the deaths of young children and infants are linked to intestinal diseases related to contaminated water.”

“[Therefore], a civilian population caged in a toxic slum from birth to death is forced to witness the slow poisoning of their children and loved ones by the water they drink and likely the soil in which they harvest, endlessly, with no change in sight.”

“There is no possible justification whatsoever for this situation. It is incumbent on the occupying authority and international community to fully guarantee Gazans’ right to water security,” the spokesman concluded the statement.

Besieged Gaza

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Are there ‘two sides’ to attacks on healthcare? Evidence from Palestine

European Journal of Public Health, 1–2
 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (https://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For
commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Viewpoint
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Are there ‘two sides’ to attacks on healthcare? Evidence from Palestine
In June 2018, 20-year-old medic Razan al-Najjar was shot and killed
by an Israeli sniper as she tended to protestors on the border between
the Gaza Strip and Israel. Despite efforts to obscure Razan’s
motivations, with an Israeli spokesperson claiming she was ‘not the
angel of mercy Hamas propaganda is making her out to be,1’ eventually
Israel admitted that her death was unintentional and a rigorous
New York Times investigation found that the medics and others
in the immediate area posed no threat to Israelis2. Although Razan’s
murder made international news, the World Health Organization
(WHO) reported 431 other attacks against healthcare in the occupied
Palestinian territories (oPt) in 2018.3
Just as acts targeting health infrastructure are condemned when
committed by regimes seen as hostile by the West, the international
medical community must speak out forcefully when they are performed
by states viewed as allies. This is particularly true when our
governments are providing significant military aid to these countries,
as in the case of the USA4 and the European Union,5 which
collectively supply Israel with billions of dollars in such aid annually.
For decades, there have been dozens, and often hundreds, of
attacks on Palestinian healthcare from Israeli military forces
reported annually. But to the medical community, these attacks
are not mere numbers. In May 2021, a former colleague of one of
the authors of this article was killed in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Ayman
Abu al-Ouf, head of internal medicine at al-Shifa Hospital and the
coordinator of the hospital’s COVID-19 response, died when Israeli
bombs struck his home an hour after he left his shift at the hospital.
Dr. al-Ouf was more than a work colleague; he was an inspiring
figure who had mastered his profession and saved many lives. ‘His
death is a catastrophe’, said one of the physicians he trained.6
The recent cycle of Israeli military aggression on the besieged
Gaza Strip has caused colossal damage to the already worn-out
healthcare system. Six hospitals and nine clinics, including a trauma
clinic run by Me´decins Sans Frontie`res as well as the main COVID-
19 laboratory in Gaza, were damaged.7 As with other attacks on
Gaza, the true damage to the infrastructure of roads, water and
sanitation facilities, electricity, and other resources vital to health
remains to be discovered. Simultaneously, Israeli troops invaded Al
Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem and blocked ambulances of the
Red Crescent responding to protests at the al-Aqsa mosque. From
May 7–20 alone, the WHO reported 117 attacks on healthcare across
the West Bank and Gaza.8
Civilian medical facilities, personnel and ambulances are offered
special protections in international humanitarian law (IHL), as mandated
in the Geneva Conventions and supported by multiple resolutions,
statutes and statements since. Article 19 of the Fourth
Geneva Convention states that hospitals retain these protections unless
actively engaged in ‘acts harmful to the enemy’. Loss of civilian
life and damage to civilian infrastructure must also be weighed in
such decisions. Yet the vagueness of this provision allows belligerent
actors to make unsubstantiated claims of military uses, such as the
hospital being utilized as a ‘human shield’. This justification has been
given even as hospitals were clearly used for civilian purposes, with
some bombings occurring as facilities were full of patients.
Israel regularly claims that the dozens of medical facilities bombed
in Gaza are attacked because they house militants or arms. In some
cases, the bombing is considered collateral damage for attacks on
nearby facilities thought to be holding militants. In others, the Israeli
military admits a target was a mistake. This reveals the entire premise
of Israel’s approach to security: that their actions should be
construed solely as self-defense in ongoing warfare, with the other
side equally if not more culpable for attacks on its own people.
After multiple massive assaults on Gaza, and regular violence
against Palestinians across the oPt, medical and public health professionals
tasked with protecting human life should take the lead in
questioning whether Israel’s aggressive use of military force against
medical infrastructure and personnel, under the guise of selfdefense,
is acceptable. The lack of evidence provided to justify these
numerous attacks begs the question of how many would qualify as
self-defense under IHL if Israel was independently investigated.
Israel’s past internal investigations have led to almost no repercussions
or admissions of wrongdoing.
The bombing of healthcare facilities and medical staff is only the
most visible of the systematic violence towards Palestinian healthcare.
As the Occupying Power throughout the oPt, Israel has specific
duties to provide for and protect Palestinian health and medical
needs ‘to the fullest extent of the means available to it’ according
to the Geneva Conventions. Yet years of occupation, segregation,
building walls and checkpoints, restrictions on freedom of movement,
and an illegal siege in Gaza systematically weakens and dedevelops
the Palestinian healthcare system. Israel’s attacks on health
across the West Bank and East Jerusalem include the raiding of
hospitals, the blockage of ambulances and other physical attacks
or barriers. In June 2021, Israel shut down one of the largest health
care service providers in the West Bank for purported political
affiliations.9 Such closures, restrictions and other targeted disruptions
of Palestinian healthcare should be viewed as akin to physical
violence—as violations of Palestinian health that are tantamount to
collective punishment.
While we have been interrogating whether the concept of selfdefense
might apply above, many legal scholars do not accept that
Israel has such a right under international law. A state cannot simultaneously
control and occupy a territory while claiming to be
under attack from that territory as a foreign threat.10 Israel’s duty
to protect Palestinians under occupation has a much stronger legal
basis than any purported right to self-defense, particularly one that
in practice leads to killing those who require said protection.
Leaving aside the question of whether self-defense can legally justify
attacks on the Gaza Strip, there is ample documentation that many
of the large-scale bombings, exhibiting the latest in modern weaponry,
are carried out with no such purpose.
The 2021 attacks on Palestinian healthcare workers and facilities
are therefore not isolated incidents but represent a pattern of illegal
targeting, which may amount to war crimes. In response, the
International Criminal Court has recently opened an investigation
into these and other potential crimes in the oPt since 2014, and the
United Nations Human Rights Council voted to open an investigation
on violations of IHL after this latest assault. While too many
lives have been lost, it is not too late for the international community,
including health professionals, to change course and demand
accountability.
Conflicts of Interest
None declared.
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References
1 Pileggi TJ. After saying it shot medic by accident, IDF claims she was ‘no angel’.
The Times of Israel 2018. Available at: https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-spokes
person-slain-gaza-medic-no-angel-of-mercy/ (22 June 2021, date last accessed).
2 Halbfinger D. A day, a life: when a medic was killed in Gaza, was it an accident?
The New York Times 2018. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/30/world/
middleeast/gaza-medic-israel-shooting.html (22 June 2021, date last accessed).
3 WHO. Right to Health in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2018. Available at:
https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/who-right-health-occu
pied-palestinian-territory-2018 (23 June 2021, date last accessed).
4 Ali M. Aid and human rights: the case of US aid to Israel. Policy Perspect 2018;15:
29–46.
5 European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine. EU and
Israel – the Case of Complicity 2019. Available at: https://www.eccpalestine.org/euand-
israel-the-case-of-complicity/ (23 June 2021, date last accessed).
6 Shaikhouni L. ‘His death is a catastrophe’: Gaza doctors mourn specialist killed in
air strike. BBC News 2021. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middleeast-
57148580 (24 June 2021, date last accessed).
7 Mahase E. Gaza: Israeli airstrikes kill doctors and damage healthcare facilities. BMJ
2021;373:n1300.
8 WHO. (2021). Escalation in the occupied Palestinian territory. Available at: http://
www.emro.who.int/images/stories/palestine/documents/210520_-_OPT_flash_up
date_May_20.pdf (22 June 2021, date last accessed).
9 Amnesty International. (2021). Israeli army shutdown of health organization will
have catastrophic consequences for Palestinian healthcare. Available at: https://
www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/06/israeli-army-shutdown-of-health-organ
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10 Erakat N. No, Israel does not have the right to self-defense in international law
against occupied Palestinian territory. Jadaliyya 2014; Available at: https://www.
jadaliyya.com/Details/27551 (23 June 2021, date last accessed).
Yara M. Asi1, Osama Tanous2, Bram Wispelwey3,4,5,
Mohammed AlKhaldi6,7,8
1 School of Global Health Management and Informatics, University of Central
Florida, Orlando, FL, USA
2 Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
3 Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
4 Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
5 Health for Palestine, West Bank, Palestine
6 Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
7 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Basel,
Switzerland
8 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University,
Nablus, Palestine
Correspondence: Y.M. Asi, School of Global Health Management and
Informatics, University of Central Florida, 500 W Livingston St, Orlando, FL
32801, USA
e-mail: yara.asi@knights.ucf.edu
doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckab167
2 of 2 European Journal of Public Health
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Covid-19 à Gaza : le Hamas décide de sanctionner les fonctionnaires non vaccinés

A partir d’aujourd’hui, 1er octobre, les fonctionnaires gazaouis qui ne sont pas vaccinés n’auront pas le droit à des congés maladies s’ils sont infectés par le coronavirus. Une mesure mise en place par le Hamas pour pallier à un taux de vaccination très faible dans l’enclave côtière sous blocus israélien depuis 2007.
En août déjà, le Hamas avait précisé que tous les fonctionnaires devaient se faire vacciner contre le coronavirus. Mais cette fois, ils ont décidé d’aller encore plus loin, de prendre des mesures légales : les employés gouvernementaux gazaouis non vaccinés qui tombent malades ne seront pas payés pendant leur arrêt maladie. Une décision prise pour sanctionner, mais surtout inciter à la vaccination.
Car dans l’enclave côtière sous blocus, seulement 140 000 personnes ont reçu deux doses de vaccins, sur les 2 millions d’habitants. Si ce faible taux de vaccination s’explique en partie par la pénurie de vaccin qu’il y a eu pendant plusieurs mois, désormais, les doses sont disponibles, le ministère de la santé de Gaza parle d’un transfert de 768 000 doses vers la bande de terre côtière, mais la population y est réticente.
En Cisjordanie occupée, l’Autorité palestinienne a mis en place une mesure similaire, depuis la fin août pour inciter les habitants à se faire vacciner : les fonctionnaires ne peuvent pas bénéficier de congés payés s’ils ne sont pas vaccinés. « Car la plupart des nouveaux cas d’infections sont le fait de personnes non vaccinés » avait alors affirmé Mohammad Shtayyeh, le Premier ministre.

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