Monday, April 6, 2009

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Palestine Medical Relief Society Jointly Issue Report on Medical Impact of Israel's Gaza Attack

Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, April 6, 2009 - An independent fact-finding mission of medical experts commissioned by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) published today its special report on the Israeli attack on Gaza.

In their report, the experts detail 44 testimonies by civilians who came under attack and by medical staff who were prevented from evacuating the wounded. The report provides first-hand evidence regarding the broader effects of the attacks on a civilian population that was already vulnerable on the eve of the offensive.

The experts collected samples of human tissue earth, water, grass and mud suspected to be contaminated by unidentified chemicals. These were sent by the team to laboratories in the UK and South Africa for analysis.

During the military operation in January, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel called for an external independent investigation into the events, for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip and for the opening of the Crossings.

Five independent experts in the fields of forensic medicine, burns, medical response to crises and public health, from Germany, Denmark, South Africa and Spain, immediately answered the call and traveled to Gaza between 29 January and 5 February 2009 for their first fact-finding investigation, and then to hospitals in Egypt, where some of the most seriously wounded were being treated.

The medical experts are: Professor Jorgen Thomsen from Denmark, expert in Forensic pathology; Dr. Ralf Syring from Germany, an expert in Public Health in crisis regions; Professor Shabbir Ahmed Wadee from South Africa, an expert in Forensic pathology; Professor Sebastian Van As from South Africa, an expert in Trauma surgery and Ms. Alicia Vacas Moro from Spain, an expert in International health.

From the conclusion of the report:

"...Besides the large-scale, largely impersonal destruction that the team witnessed and heard of, it was especially distressing to hear of individual cases in which soldiers had been within seeing, hearing and speaking distance of their victims for significant stretches of time, but despite the opportunity for 'humanisation', had denied wounded people access to lifesaving medical care, or even shot at civilians at short range..."

A PDF of the full report is available at the link.

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