World Health Day: PCHR Calls for Providing Medical Supplies and COVID-19 Testing Kits to Gaza Strip’s Health Sector

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)

World Health Day is celebrated each year on April 7th, and it was first sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1950 to raise health awareness. The theme for World Health Day 2020 is “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” to support nurses and midwives in the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy and providing assistance for patients, especially during the outbreak of diseases and in conflicts. This occasion also coincides with the global threat of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

On World Health Day, health facilities in the Gaza Strip are severely undermined, and lack the necessary capacities to provide adequate health service to Gaza patients, including extreme shortage in essential drugs, medical consumables, equipment necessary for coronavirus medical examination, and specialized healthcare professionals.

This is the direct result of the Israeli- imposed closure on the Gaza Strip for the last 13 years; and the repercussions of the Palestinian internal division and political bickering, which negatively reflected on the entry of necessary medical supplies into the Gaza Strip and the level of health services provided for patients.

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Gaza and PCHR’s follow-up, health facilities in the Gaza Strip suffer from acute shortage of essential drugs, medical disposables, ventilators, and COVID-19 testing kits (50% of the essential medicines list; 60% of medical tests; 45% of the medical disposables; and 100% shortage in COVID-19 testing kits at the Gaza Strip Hospitals).

It should be noted that the available ventilators at the Gaza Strip Hospitals are insufficient, particularly in times of emergencies and in the case of a coronavirus outbreak.

As PCHR fears the possible collapse of the health sector in the Gaza Strip, and with the awareness that the health sector cannot sustain patients in case of a coronavirus outbreak, PCHR;

  • Calls upon the international community and WHO to put pressure on Israel and compel it to comply with its obligations, and to allow the entry of Gaza Strip’s medical needs, especially equipment necessary for coronavirus medical examination.
  • Calls upon the international community and humanitarian organizations to provide aid and assistance to the Gaza Strip’s health sector and to endeavor to supply the needed medical equipment to Gaza hospitals to protect them from collapse.
  • Stresses the need for coordination between MOH in Gaza and Ramallah to combat the spread of coronavirus.

(Source / 08.04.2020) 

International Solidarity Movement Responds to Report of FBI Probe

This is the statement from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in response to a report  published by The Intercept detailing an investigation of the ISM conducted by the FBI from 2004 – 2006, using informants as well as physical and telecommunications surveillance.

The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of international solidarity that promotes non-violent witness, accompaniment and civil disobedience to challenge the Israeli military’s violent occupation of Palestinian land. The group has always strictly adhered to the principle and practice of non-violence as a tactic.

Here is the group’s statement:

We, at the International Solidarity Movement, denounce this shameless abuse of power and misuse of public funds in an attempt to criminalize Palestinian solidarity and anti-occupation activism, as well as the current ongoing campaign in some American states to criminalize the BDS movement. ISM activists have been secretly spied on and targeted by various intelligence services, including British, Israeli, and U.S.,  for over 19 years, merely for standing up for the rights of Palestinians.

We call on those who believe that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity to take action and raise awareness about local, state, and national attempts to criminalize nonviolent resistance such as BDS and Palestinian advocacy, and boycott those profiting off the Occupation of Palestine.

According to the Intercept report, an FBI investigation was launched after an American volunteer with ISM was shot and wounded by Israeli forces at a protest in Occupied Palestine. Instead of investigating the foreign army that injured an American citizen exercising his First Amendment-protected right to peaceful protest, the FBI’s response was to probe the survivor. While the 2 primary investigations were launched by the Los Angeles and St. Louis FBI Field Offices, agents from at least 11 cities were involved in spying on various ISM activists and related organizations. Using far right and extremist news sources, the investigation attempted to link ISM to international terrorism.

After two years of investigation, multiple rights and privacy violations, hundreds of pages of reports and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted, the investigation only proved what we have always maintained: ISM is a non-violent movement committed to ending the Occupation of Palestine through non-violent means.

Notably, the investigation began in March 2004, shortly after the murder of American Rachel Corrie and Briton Tom Hurndall (2003) by the Israeli army. The probe coincided with an Israeli government campaign to de-legitimize ISM and discredit Palestinian rights activists. It also reflects the increase in recent years of FBI investigations into non-violent activist organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antiwar.com. Today, lobby groups, politicians, and leaders in the United States continue to violate First Amendment-protected rights to free speech through criminalizing non-violent Palestinian activism, such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“The fact that ISM was under this kind of extensive investigation is ridiculous and a complete waste of taxpayer money. ISM has always been open and transparent about who we are, what we do, and what we stand for, which is purportedly what this country stands for — freedom and human rights.” — ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf

“In Dr. King’s time, surveillance was justified in terms of alleged Communist influence; in recent years, surveillance has been justified by alleged association with terrorists. In both cases, U.S. citizens were employing nonviolent action to confront injustice and oppression.” — ISM activist spied on by the FBI, Mark Chmiel

(Source / 08.04.2020) 

Committee Concerned About Health of Palestinian Prisoners

Representative of the Ramallah-based Committee for Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-prisoners, Hassan Abd Rabo, expressed on Tuesday the committee’s growing concerns over the safety of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails.

Abd Rabo’s remarks come amidst the internationally-spread Coronavirus, inside Israel and some Palestinian cities, towns and villages.

He was quoted as saying that up to this moment, Israeli Prisons Authority has failed to take necessary steps to provide protection for Palestinian prisoners, including sterilizing prison cells or medical check-ups for prisoners.

Recently, Palestinian prisoners’ bodies, including the said committee, have expressed a great deal of concern over the health status of Palestinian prisoners, of whom a few hundred are patients suffering from chronic diseases with weak immune systems, including women and children.

Noteworthy, the Israeli government decided late on Monday night to enforce a total lockdown on Israeli cities and towns, mainly those with high rates of Coronavirus cases, starting from Tuesday through Friday.

Israeli media reports said that the number of Coronavirus patients has reached 9006, and 60 reported deaths.

In a related statement, Abdellatif Alqanou, spokesperson for the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, was quoted earlier on Tuesday as saying that the international community should promptly pressure Israeli authorities to facilitate entry of all needed medical supplies to enable health authorities in the coastal enclave, to continue the fight against the Coronavirus.

The statement comes hours after the Gaza-based health ministry launched an appeal to all relevant international bodies to swiftly provide medical support, after Coronavirus diagnostic tools have reportedly run out of the ministry’s stores.

Worth-mentioning, Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett, earlier conditioned helping deliver medical supplies to the Israel-besieged Gaza Strip, with the release of two Israeli soldiers, who went missing back in 2014, when Israel carried out a large-scale attack on the densely populated tiny coastal enclave.

Last week, Hamas’s leader in the territory, Yehya Alsinwar, offered the Israeli occupation authorities a possible prisoner swap deal, in which Hamas may release the two missing Israeli soldiers, in return for an Israeli release of hundreds of elderly, juvenile and female prisoners. The Hamas party said on Tuesday that Israel has not yet responded. The party considered such an offer a humanitarian one that takes into account the current Coronavirus crisis, in a way that would protect the lives of those particular Palestinian prisoners.

Media reports suggested that Israel has shown willingness to start indirect negotiations with Hamas over the party’s last offer for the release of Palestinian prisoners, in return for some Israelis, missing in Gaza since Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza.

(Source / 07.04.2020) 

Several Palestinians Ordered to Halt Construction in Jordan Valley

Israeli forces, on Monday, ordered a halt on the construction of several Palestinian-owned structures in Khirbet Yarza and al-Jiftlik villages in the Jordan Valley, according to sources.

Activist, Aref Daraghmeh, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that Israeli forces handed a villager, identified as Salem Abu al-Tayyib, from Khirbet Yarza, east of Tubas city, a notice ordering him to stop the construction of his agricultural and residential structures including tents.

Soldiers also handed notices to several other villagers from al-Jiftlik, north of Jericho city, ordering them to halt the construction of agricultural and residential tents and to uproot their palm trees, citing unlicensed construction as a pretext for halting construction.

It is important to note that Israel recently ordered a halt on the construction of two Palestinian houses in the villages of al-Khader and Beit Skarya, near the city of Bethlehem, southern occupied West Bank.

Article 17 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states;

  • Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  • No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

(Source / 07.04.2020)

Shipping Container Confiscated by Israeli Forces near Hebron

Israeli forces Monday, seized a shipping container and tore down a stall in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Qalqas, south of Hebron city, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

WAFA correspondent confirmed that Israeli forces escorted heavy equipment into the village, in the southern occupied West Bank, where the heavy machinery confiscated a shipping container and dismantled a stall for selling scrap, belonging to Palestinian resident, Mohammad Abu Sneineh.

It is important to note that Israeli forces also ordered many Palestinians to halt construction of their homes, in the Jordan Valley, on Monday.

According to the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Israel has demolished 6,539 Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank since 2009, displacing 10,139 Palestinian people.

(Source / 07.04.2020) 

Israeli Troops Invade Parts of Gaza with Tanks, Bulldozers

Israeli troops reportedly, incurred earlier on Tuesday, into the northwestern part of the besieged Gaza Strip, with tanks and D-9 bulldozers.

Local media outlets and witnesses said that at least four army bulldozers as well as other armored vehicles, incurred several hundred meters deep into a northwestern part of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia.

Witnesses added that the invasion took place from the so-called Zekem Israeli military gate.

They also noted that the invading bulldozers embarked on razing of farm lands adjacent to the Israel-Gaza border fence.

No causalities were reported, but some damage was reported to Palestinian-owned farm lands.

Concurrently, another force of Israeli army invaded the southeastern part of Khan Younis city, southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said that the invading force opened heavy fire on residents’ homes and farmers in the area, with no causalities reported.

A similar Israeli small-scale invasion occurred on Monday, in Khuza’a village, in the same Khan Younis area.

(Source / 07.04.2020) 

3 Palestinian Workers Attacked, Injured by Israeli Settlers in West Jerusalem

A group of Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian workers in occupied West Jerusalem, on Sunday, according to the Wadi Hilweh Information Center (Silwanic).

Majed Fasfous 30, told the Center that the illegal settlers attacked him with a knife, stabbed him in the head, attempted to stab him in the back and sprayed he and his colleagues with pepper spray.

He said that his colleagues, identified as Amir Debes and Izz Muhammad Ali, called the Israeli police, who proceeded to interrogate Fasfous on the scene, and even after he was transferred to hospital.

Fasfous expressed his astonishment at the ill-treatment he received from Israeli medical staff at the hospital, who seemingly blamed him for the attack, reportedly asking “What have you done to them for them to stab you in your head?”

(Source / 07.04.20) 

PCHR Condemns Israeli Defense Minister’s Statements, Stresses Linking Humanitarian Aid to Politics is Unacceptable

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli Defense Minister, Naftali Bennett’s statements linking the entry of medical supplies into the Gaza Strip to combat Coronavirus with the return of Israeli soldiers who have been held by Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip since 2014. PCHR stresses that this bargaining constitutes a flagrant violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

PCHR considers that bargaining Palestinian civilians’ humanitarian needs for political gains is utterly unacceptable and condemned. PCHR reiterates that abusing civilian needs for gaining political ground is abhorrent, and warns that such a position could carry a direct threat to the lives of civilians in the Gaza Strip, as it could lead to a coronavirus outbreak, bearing in mind the severe shortage of medical requisites and deterioration of the economic situation due to the Israeli-imposed closure for over 13 years.

On Wednesday, Naftali Bennett said in a statement that, “The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza – Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen.” And I think that we need to enter a broad dialogue about Gaza’s and our humanitarian needs. It would not be right to disconnect these things … and certainly, our hearts would be open to many things.”

In light of this, PCHR stresses the necessity not to involve Palestinian civilians in the woes of politics, use them as means of pressure to gain political advantages and threatening to impose collective punishments on more than 2 million Palestinians. In this regard, PCHR points out the State of Israel’s long history of imposing collective punishments on Palestinian civilians.

PCHR calls upon the international community and the World Health Organization (WHO) to fulfill their responsibilities to stop these attacks on Palestinian civilians, and to pressure Israel as an occupying power that controls Gaza outlets to provide the essential needs of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, including medical devices, in order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Under international law, the occupying state is responsible for the lives of people in the occupied land and it has a legal obligation to provide health care to the population under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention of 1907, which emphasized the responsibility of the occupying state for the safety and well-being of the population of the occupied land.

Likewise, international human rights law under the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The United Nations Special Committee affirmed in its concluding observations on Israeli reports to the Committee that the occupying state is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the convention provisions in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and requested Israel to integrate this aspect in its reports.

Thus, it is evident that providing the requirements to protect the population of the Gaza Strip from the coronavirus pandemic is a legal obligation upon Israel. Therefore, it cannot be bargained or compromised with under the general principles of international law.

(Source / 06.04.2020) 

On Palestinian Child Day – There are 200 Children Detained in Israeli Prisons

Head of the Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Commission, Qadri Abu Bakr, on Sunday, said that Israel has 200 Palestinian children in detention, commemorating ‘Palestinian Child Day’ on April 5th, Palestinian WAFA News Agency reported.

In a statement, Abu Bakr said that since the year 2000, Israel has arrested no less than 1700 Palestinian minors between 12 and 18 years, in addition to the detention of children younger than 10 years.

Abu Bakr asserted that these children are subjected to very harsh interrogation and even torture during their detention, in clear violation of international human rights standards. He called on the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council, UNICEF and Amnesty International to pressure Israel to release the minors.

(Source / 06.04.2020) 

Report: 17 Israeli Violations Against Gaza Fishermen

The Gaza-based Palestinian Agricultural Union issued on Sunday a report, outlining the amount of Israeli naval forces violations against Gaza fishermen, during March of 2020.

According to the Department of Lobbying and Advocacy of the Palestinian Agricultural Union, Israeli naval forces, off the coast of Gaza, committed 17 violations against Gaza fishermen, last month.

The department’s records suggested that among those violations were opening heavy fire, unleashing waste water cannons and ruining fishing nets. The violations also included damaging two boats, belonging to two different fishermen from Gaza City.

The non-governmental agricultural organization also noted that the recent amount of violations against fishermen, came while Palestinian fishermen and many other categories of Palestinian workers, are coping with the spread of the coronavirus, worldwide, by following the precautions put forth by concerned health bodies, as many of those fishermen stay-in doors, to protect themselves.

Compliance by fishermen has been noted widely, despite the fact that fishing is the only source of income for them to provide for their families, with the Gaza Strip having been subject to a crippling Israeli blockade, for 13 years now.

The Gaza-based Agricultural Union asserted in its statement on the union’s endeavor to disclose all Israeli actions, off the coast of Gaza, which the union considers as human rights violations, mainly the right to live decently, in a time Israel imposes a great deal of restrictions on fishermens’ work.

Back in 2007, Israel enforced a sea blockade on the coastal trip, affecting the livelihood of about 4,000 Palestinian fishermen in Gaza.

Since then, fishermen have been able to fish only within 6 to 9 nautical miles, off Gaza Mediterranean shores. Only recently, Israel has allowed fishermen to fish within 15 nautical miles, but only in some parts of the Gaza Strip’s shores.

(Source / 06.04.2020)