Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Lancet Publishes Physicians' Critique of Human Rights Abuses by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza

Physicians issue call for boycott

Medical News Today, January 14, 2009 - In Correspondence published early Online and in an upcoming edition of The Lancet, a group of four UK and one Italian doctors describe the human rights abuses they saw against Palestinian residents on a recent fact-finding mission....They describe how, unlike Gaza, the West Bank does not threaten Israel with missiles, but suffers the same human rights abuses. The separation barrier, checkpoints, and need for travel permits delay access to hospitals for both patients and health-workers. The doctors say: "We saw 33-week old triplets delayed for over five hours while awaiting permits and finally transferred without their parents." Commuting times were also increased five-fold for some health workers, and travel made extremely difficult for staff and students wishing to reach educational institutions. Total blockage of Gaza meant that humanitarian workers, essential food, energy and medical supplies could not reach those in need. Furthermore, the doctors heard from the organisation Physicians for Human Rights-Israel that the number of exit permits being granted for treatment outside Gaza had been reduced, and in some cases exit was denied unless patients agreed to collaborate with the Israeli security service in intelligence gathering.

Illegal Israeli settlements are threatening Palestinians' opportunities to make a living, and violence continues at all levels, including stone-throwing from Israeli children which is ignored by Israeli troops. The doctors conclude: "Our experience in the West Bank caused us grave concerns, which have been realised more rapidly and devastatingly than any of us could have anticipated, in the current disproportionate attacks by Israeli forces. Our personal insight into this includes the attack by the Israeli navy on the boat Dignity when underway to provide emergency health care to Gaza, and which was carrying a member of our tour group.

"We suggest that, in view of the failure of other measures to influence those in power, serious consideration be given to targeted academic and trade boycotts."

David Worth, Su Metcalfe, John Boyd, Adrian Worrall, Paola Canarutto

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