by Alice Rothchild, MD
We’re pleased to repost an excerpt of this monthly report by JWE board member Alice Rothchild, MD, which was earlier posted by the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council (JVP-HAC)
This month we are focused on Gaza, the impact of the siege on mental, physical, and public health, with a secondary focus on settler and soldier violence in the oPt. With the recent assault on Gaza and the closure of Erez checkpoint and increased restrictions, health care is even more strangled and patients can’t get out for high level care. Israeli attacks continued in the West Bank and Palestinian hunger striker and political activist Sheikh Khader Adnan, 45, died inside the Ramleh prison clinic. There are a number of important research and NGO reports this month and an action item regarding the new Betty McCollum bill HR 3103.
VIOLATION FOR THE MONTH: Israeli assassinations and bombing of Gaza.
Hostilities between Israeli and Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza were sparked by a surprise Israeli attack on May 11, 2023 that killed three leaders, their children and other family members. Human Rights Watch investigated three Israeli strikes that killed 62 Palestinian civilians where there were no evident military targets in the vicinity. Palestinian armed groups also committed unlawful attacks, launching more than 4,360 unguided rockets and mortars toward Israeli population centers, violating the prohibition against deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians. The United Nations reported that during the May fighting, attacks by the Israeli military killed 260 Palestinians, including at least 129 civilians, of whom 66 were children. The Gaza Health Ministry said Israeli forces injured 1,948 Palestinians, including 610 children. Israeli authorities said that rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups resulted in the death of 12 civilians, including two children, one soldier, and injured “several hundred” people.
Healthcare suffered due to the closure of the Erez checkpoint, the only human crossing between Israel and Gaza. 430 Palestinians and their companions, mostly cancer patients were blocked access to treatment in hospitals in the occupied West Bank and Israel according to the Ministry of Health. The checkpoint for receiving goods, medication and fuel was also blocked. The lives of the Gazan people were made more difficult resulting in increased food insecurity, water and electricity shortages, mental health issues as well as fear for their lives.
- Tamara Nasser, “Resistance vows to fight on after more Israeli assassinations.” Electronic Intifada, May 11, 2023.
- “Gaza: Apparent War Crimes During May Fighting” Human Rights Watch.
HEROES OF THE MONTH: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
The Institute for Middle East Understanding, Democracy for the Arab World Now, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Jewish Voice for Peace Action organized an educational event, “Nakba 75 & the Palestinian People,” with special guest Rashida Tlaib. This event was to educate Congress and their staff about the ongoing Nakba and its impact upon Palestinians followed by dinner to take place in the auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blocked the event. Rep. Tlaib condemned McCarthy”s move and stated, “This event is planned to bring awareness about the Nakba and create space for Palestinian Americans to tell their stories of trauma and survival.” Senator Sanders gave a conference room to the group so the educational event could take place. “We will not be silenced.”
- Michael Arria, “Kevin McCarthy moves to block Nakba event from happening in capitol, says he will honor Israel instead.” Mondoweiss, May 10, 2023.
ACTION ITEM: Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Act (HR3103)
Tell your representative to cosponsor or support the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, reintroduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04) for the new congressional term.
Write to your Representative!
Back to our focus on Gaza and settler & soldier violence on the West Bank…(a sampling of health news and analysis)
Important report in The Lancet, www.thelancet.com, Vol 401 May 20, 2023
The Lancet World Report “Palestinians Continue to Face Barriers to Health” presents the findings of two new reports issued by the World Health Organization on 9 May 2023. The WHO reports document 750 attacks on health care in the Gaza Strip and West Bank from 2019 to 2022, resulting in the death of one health-care worker and injuries to 568, with 315 ambulances and 160 health facilities affected. Ajith Sunghay, Head of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a press release. “This trend has only accelerated in 2023. OHCHR and WHO documented that Israeli forces have frequently prevented access to medical care, including for first response teams to reach persons with life-threatening injuries.” Only 65% of patients’ applications to exit the Gaza Strip to reach East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Jordan,or Egypt for treatment were approved by Israel, and ambulances faced an average waiting time of 68 min at the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip; 331 678 permit applications from the West Bank were denied between 2011 and 2021.
And in Global Public Health, An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, Volume 18, 2023 – Issue 1,
Structural racism and the health of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel (PCI) constitute almost 20% of the Israeli population. Despite having access to one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world, PCI have shorter life expectancy and significantly worse health outcomes compared to the Jewish Israeli population. While several studies have analysed the social and policy determinants driving these health inequities, direct discussion of structural racism as their overarching etiology has been limited. This article situates the social determinants of health of PCI and their health outcomes as stemming from settler colonialism and resultant structural racism by exploring how Palestinians came to be a racialized minority in their homeland. In utilising critical race theory and a settler colonial analysis, we provide a structural and historically responsible reading of the health of PCI and suggest that dismantling legally codified racial discrimination is the first step to achieving health equity.4/14/23 The full blockade of Gaza – imposed by Israel since 2007 – has caused major problems for the healthcare system, with severe shortages of essential drugs and Gazans having to choose between increasingly expensive drugs and food.
Global Public Health
Continue reading here.
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