May 1, 2019
Welcome to the monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to share the newsletter with your colleagues and communities and encourage them to join the JVP Health Advisory Council. Thanks to all who have contributed!
· Why the Gaza protests won’t stop.
A Human Rights Watch (HRW) Research Assistant recounts her experiences interviewing participants of the past year’s Great March of Return. Over the past year, HRW staff investigated many of the cases of Gaza protesters identified by the UN Commission of Inquiry who were killed or injured by the IDF. HRW found that the IDF “repeatedly fired on protesters who posed no imminent threat to life … (which) contravene international human rights law standards, acts that may amount to war crimes…”
Human Rights Watch
· Echoes of Sharpeville Massacre in the Gaza March of Return
Samer Badawi writes about the echoes of Apartheid-era South Africa’s Sharpeville Massacre in the Gazan March of Return, as well as it being a cautionary tale for Palestinians. In the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, South African police forces opened fire on a crowd of 5,000 to 7,000 unarmed people who were protesting pass laws. 250 people were shot, many in the back while fleeing; 69 of them were killed, including 10 children. It was a turning point in the struggle against Apartheid, but it would take another 34 years before democracy finally came to South Africa. Despite it being the site of the signing of South Africa’s democratic constitution, today the town of Sharpeville itself is often forgotten, as is the neglected memorial to those massacred.
· March gives people a reason to live, but it is complicated, dead and wounded everywhere.
Hasan al-Kurd, one of the organizers of last year’s Great March of Return in Gaza, says in an interview with +972 that the protests gave people in Gaza a reason to live. A year later, he reflects on the shocking rate of protest-related injuries one sees everywhere in Gaza, how Hamas took over the nonviolent effort, and what he would do differently today.
· The Great March and the trauma for children.
‘A void no one can fill’: Gaza’s children face trauma of losing friends, family in protests
Israeli forces have killed some 40 children in the Great March of Return — another psychological scar for a generation of Palestinians living under siege. According to the commission, another 1,642 children have been injured by live ammunition, shrapnel, rubber-coated steel bullets and direct tear gas canister hits.
· The price of heavy metal contamination from Israeli weaponry in Gaza.
Heavy metal contamination from weaponry (such as white phosphorus, mercury, selenium, etc) was found in wounds and creates lasting contamination of the environment and the population in Gaza. This results in an increase in birth defects from 39.5/1000 in 2006 to 63/1000 in 2010 and increase in preterm and low birth weight babies and perinatal deaths. Surveillance of reproductive health is the best tool to detect risk of exposure to teratogens (and potentially carcinogen) environmental contamination by heavy metals.
Research by Paola Manduca
· Patient’s husband arrested at Erez Crossing after receiving cancer treatment in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Israeli authorities stationed at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing for arresting a patient’s companion, from the Gaza Strip, while returning to the Gaza Strip. The patient was with his wife and was being treated for cancer at al-Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem. This is considered a violation of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It also constitutes a form of inhuman and degrading punishment.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights
· Qatar opens hospital in Gaza.
Qatar opened the first prosthetic hospital, Hamad Hospital, and a disability rehabilitation center in the Gaza Strip, overcoming obstacles that delayed the much-needed project in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
· Gaza children’s mental health rapidly deteriorating.
A study conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council found that 68 percent of schoolchildren in areas close to the Israeli perimeter fence have clear indications of psychosocial distress.
Norwegian Refugee Council
· Medic shot by Israeli forces in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem.
Israeli forces shot and killed 17-year-old Sajed Mizher, a volunteer first responder with Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) while he was on duty in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank on March 27, 2019 and clearly identifiable by his orange vest.
Defense of Children International Palestine
· Four young men shot in West Bank.
B’Tselem reported on 4 young men who were shot to death without justification in March and April (“Expendable Lives,” 17 April 2019) by the Israeli forces. Muhammad Shahin, 23, was watching clashes between stone-throwers and security forces from a distance in the town of Salfit on 12 March 2019 and was shot and killed. Ahmad Manasrah, 22, was helping a family whose car got stuck near the Nashash/Efrat North checkpoint on 20 March 2019; he was shot and killed, and several members of the family who got out to check the car were also shot. Volunteer paramedic Sajed Muzhar, 17, was killed on 27 March 2019 while wearing a medical crew vest as he was trying to help a wounded man at the a-Duheisheh Refugee Camp. Muhammad Dar ‘Udwan, 24, was shot from behind on 2 April 2019 in Kafr ‘Aqab while fleeing Israeli security forces.
· New medical school in the Jewish settlement of Ariel.
The Sheldon Adelson-funded school at Ariel University in the Jewish settlement of Ariel plans to allocate 70 positions as part of a greater national effort to increase the number of medical students in Israel.
· UNRWA announces maintenance programs in schools and health centers.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced a large program of maintenance projects to ensure quality of construction and accessibility of 268 schools and health centers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, as well as Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon.
· Listen to recordings from the Palestinian Childhoods: Human Rights, Mental Health and Resistance conference.
The conference addresses the mental health of children and families in the OPT and explores the psychological and relational aspects of oppression, denial of human rights, the experience of arrest and imprisonment, as well as resistance. The conference is a joint initiative between CREHE (Centre for Researching and Embedding Human Rights), Birkbeck, University of London, and the UK/Palestine Mental Health Network, sponsored by the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research and supported by Friends of Birzeit University.
Listen to recordings of presentations:
1. the opening address by Victoria Brittain;
2. the two keynote presentations by Prof. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Dr. Samah Jabr, and a response from Prof. Jacqueline Rose;
3. two panel discussions;
4. the workshop led by Dr. Marwan Diab
· US AID laying off most of its Palestinian staff in the West Bank and Gaza.
Under orders from the Trump administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is preparing to lay off most of its Palestinian aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission. Last year, the Trump administration cut half a billion dollars in Palestinian aid, including money to care for Palestinian cancer patients and food to address a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
· Leading member of African National Congress reflects on similarities between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and todays BDS struggle in Palestine.
In this editorial in The Guardian (UK), Ronnie Kasrils, a leading member of the African National Congress during the apartheid era and a former South African government minister, reports on the similarities between the global movement against South African apartheid and the current-day BDS movement for Palestinian rights. This includes his being banned me for life from attending meetings or publishing by South Africa’s apartheid government, and now a public meeting in Vienna at which he was scheduled to speak in support of Palestinian freedom, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week, was cancelled by the museum hosting the event under pressure from Vienna’s city council, which opposes BDS.
· Prisoners smuggle sperm for IVF as a form of resistance.
Palestinian families continue a unique form of resistance by smuggling sperm out of prison and utilizing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive children; 49 Palestinian prisoners have thus managed to father children from Israeli prisons.
· Hunger striking prisoners reach an agreement.
After 8 days on hunger strike, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons reached an agreement improving some of their conditions, though 6 Palestinian administrative detainees continued a weeks-long hunger strike.
· In Israel, Human Rights Watch Official’s Deportation Reinstated.
An Israeli court in April upheld government’s order to deport Omar Shakir, a US citizen and the HRW Israel and Palestine director. The court found that HRW’s research and advocacy calling for businesses to stop enabling abuses in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank constitutes a call for boycott. This is the first time the government has relied on a 2017 amendment to the Law of Entry to deport someone who is already lawfully present in the country.
The court that describes as “boycott-promoting activities” HRW’s research on the activities of businesses, including the global tourism companies Airbnb and Booking.com, and its recommendation that they cease operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Human Rights Watch
· The contradictions between “peace plans,” the worsening occupation, and the myth of democracy in Israel. Even in the New York Times.
In an op-ed originally published in The New York Times (“Democracy, Israeli Style: An election, a peace plan and an endless occupation,” 7 April 2019), B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad writes that peace plans dating all the way back to the Nixon administration, as well as those that followed, made many promises to eliminate the occupation. Those plans are long forgotten, and Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has only deepened, expanded, and evolved. Israel’s real feat has been achieving all of this with impunity from the rest of the world, while still holding on to its public relations label as a “vibrant democracy”. The April 9th election is no a celebration of democracy but a painful reminder of Israel’s deeply undemocratic reality.
New York Times
· Segregated Israeli hospitals.
Three Israeli hospitals have admitted for the first time that they segregate Jewish and Arab women giving birth, at the women’s request.
· The ongoing crisis for Sudanese asylum seekers, life in limbo.
Just one Sudanese asylum-seeker has been given refugee status by Israel, which affords certain rights, such as work permits and housing assistance. Two-hundred more hold humanitarian visas, which allows them to work.
The rest are on temporary visas that need to be continually renewed and keep refugees from bedding in roots.
Middle East Eye