People’s Health Movement calls for Immediate Cessation of Israeli Offensive in Palestine and Lebanon and for UN Intervention
Ramalla (Palestine), 17th July, 2006: The Israeli offensive in Lebanon and Palestine is collective retribution against civilians in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and carries a high risk of all out war.
The People’s Health Movement (PHM) calls for an immediate withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, immediate cessation of the attacks on Palestine and Lebanon, immediate lifting of the blockade of Gaza and for the establishment of a strong UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Middle East.
The PHM is an international network of grass roots health organisations in over 90 countries including Asia, Latin America, Africa, Europe, United States and the Middle East. In PHM’s view social, economic and political factors, including conflict and war, undermine the health of the world’s people, especially the poor, the majority of whom live in developing countries. The deaths, injuries and loss of livelihood in both Israel and Palestine are tragic but the burden has been carried disproportionately by the Palestinians. In the first 48 hours after the incident of the 5th July, 35 Palestinians including children were killed by Israeli forces and 150 injured. In Lebanon, five straight days of Israeli attacks have killed 181 people, including children, and injured over 500. Another 350,000 displaced people, most of them women and children, are seeking refuge in schools and other public places. Food, water and medications are in short supply. For a small country like Lebanon (area:10,452 m2, population: 3,500,000), its infrastructure like airport, harbours, bridges, roads, border check points, power stations, fuel tanks etc, is almost completely destroyed. PHM calls upon humanitarian organisations to step up aid efforts to respond to the humanitarian crises. The civilian population of Gaza has taken the full force of the Israeli attacks with indiscriminate shelling and bombing; disruption of power, water supply and sanitation; destruction of houses and bulldozing of farms; and low level supersonic ‘buzzing’ of civilian populations. The civilian population of Lebanon has more recently been targeted through the destruction of transport and communications infrastructure and arbitrary bombing. PHM is concerned for the immediate suffering and loss of life and calls for wider affirmation that human life is precious of whatever nationality or religion and that the lives of Palestinians are not to be somehow discounted against the lives of Israelis. The targeting of civilians and deliberate creation of terror is terrorism. PHM is also deeply concerned about the increased risk of all out warfare in the region and perhaps beyond. It seems that the border incidents, involving the capture of Israeli soldiers, are serving as mere pretexts for a major onslaught by Israel on the aspirations and the morale of the Palestinian people and for the establishment of a greater Israel. On behalf of the millions of ordinary civilians in the region who would suffer and die in the case of war PHM calls for an immediate cessation of the Israeli offensive, withdrawal from Gaza and lifting of the blockade and for immediate UN intervention in the conflict. The health situation in the Gaza Strip has been seriously undermined as a result of external funding cuts to the Palestinian Authority (PA), together with Israel’s refusal to transfer tax monies collected on behalf of the PA, and the freezing of PA accounts by commercial banks. The PA employs 57 percent of all health workers, and runs 45 percent of primary health care centres in the Gaza Strip. Its inability to maintain service provision is having devastating impacts on access to healthcare, and is placing an unsustainable burden on non-governmental health organisations to fill the gap in services. PHM calls on health activists in Israel and in the US and Britain (Israel’s principal allies) and everywhere to generate pressure on Israel to cease its offensive and to take part in meaningful talks directed to a just and lasting solution of the problems of the Middle East.
Dr. Jihad Mashal, Director General, Palestinian Medical Relief Society, Palestine Mobile: +970 (599) 55 77 55
Dr. Ghassan Issa, Arab Resource Collective: Ph: +96 11 742075
Dr Hani Serag, firstname.lastname@example.org