PHR-Israel entered Gaza today after an 18-month ban

On behalf of PHR-Israel, I’m excited to report that for the first time in over 18 months, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has received clearance to enter Gaza to provide medical services in the fields of orthopedics and neurology. PHR-Israel’s medical delegation will spend the next 48 hours at Al Shifa’ Hospital in Gaza City seeing patients, training physicians, and expressing solidarity with our Palestinian counterparts living under nearly four years of closure and ongoing movement and access restrictions.

PHR-Israel’s Mobile Clinics Coordinator Salah Haj Yihyeh organized the visit just last night upon receiving official permission from the Army’s coordination office. Joining him are three senior physicians, Dr. Mustafa Yassin, Orthopedist, Dr. Abdallah Burak, and Rafiq Masalha, both Neurologists.

Despite monthly requests for over a year, PHR-Israel has been repeatedly banned from carrying out its mobile clinic in the the Gaza Strip. Between January 2008- June 2009, PHR-Israel was permitted to enter Gaza and succeeded in carrying out 13 physician delegations during that time. Our professional cooperation on the eve of the December 2008 Israeli offensive led senior medical officials in Gaza to turn to us directly with an urgent request for medications and medical supplies needed to care for the injured during the offensive. In response, PHR-Israel released an appeal for donations to which hundreds of our Israeli and international friends generously responded, enabling us to send seven dispatches of medications and supplies, including intensive care unit beds, surgical equipment, rods for orthopedic procedures and other emergency surgical equipment to Gaza, totally nearly 400,000 USD. Following Cast Lead, PHR’s requests for medical delegations to enter Gaza were summarily rejected, we believe due to the ongoing targeting of the human rights community and our work.

We hope this visit to Gaza signals a new moment and that the presence of our doctors in Gaza will enable us to better understand the effects of the ongoing closure on public health and secure livelihoods in Gaza. We hope as well that the medical information and professional observations released by Israeli physicians following this visit will influence the local public and policy makers to question the State’s policy on Gaza, a policy which condemns 1.5 million people to the confines of daily collective punishment.

Please consider making a donation to PHR-Israel once again. Your continued support enables us to seize opportunities like these to advance the right to health in Israel and the Occupied Territories. For information on new ways to donate to PHR-Israel (including via credit card through paypal), please visit our website http://www.phr.org.il.

Gila Norich

Director of Development

Physicians for Human Rights- Israel

Tel: +972 3 5133 102

gila[at]phr.org.il

 

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