From Gaza Community Mental Health Program
GCMHP's work is disrupted

Feb 17, 2001 - Over the past few days, the Israeli army escalated its
aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank. Sadly, these measures are typical Israeli, indiscriminate,
collective punishment against civilian population to which we have become
accustomed. However, the latest measures are characterized by
unprecedented severity both in their effect Palestinian's lives, and in
their disregard for the most basic human rights.

Since Monday, the Israeli army has imposed a strict siege on the Gaza Strip
and closed all points of entry or exit from the Strip. Moreover, it has
divided the Strip into 4 separate areas. Citizens, basic goods, and medical
supplies are prevented from entering the Gaza Strip or moving between these
areas. In addition, the army has taken severe measures against civilians as
exemplified by shooting a 52-year old farmer in his grove. The effects of
this siege and separation have paralyzed daily life in the Gaza Strip.

At GCMHP, we have felt the effects of these inhumane measures. Our clinics
in Gaza, Jabalia, Deir El-Balah, and Khan Younis have been cut off, and
staff members working in those clinics but living in different areas have
not been able to reach them. In addition, patients in areas that have been
sealed off are denied access to the clinics.

Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, the Chairman of the Board, is unable to come back to
Palestine. Dr. Ahmad Abu Tawahina, the Executive Director, is unable to come
to the Programme Headquarter in Gaza, as he is a resident of Deir El-Balah.
The pharmacist in our Gaza clinic is prevented from reaching the clinic, as
he is a resident of Nuseirat refugee camp. A number of secretaries as well
as the nanny in the Programme's nursery have been unable to report to work
for several days due to the forced separation.

Our training activities have also been hindered. Many of the students and
trainers of the post-graduate diploma in community mental health and human
rights live in areas that are separated from Gaza City. They are unable to
conduct their schedule of lectures, practical training, and supervision.
Also, the research department is paralyzed since the secretary and field
workers cannot report to work. Moreover, the Women's Empowerment branches in
Deir El-Balah and Rafah are cut off from the main center in Gaza City.

The patients are not responsible for the bombings in Israel and neither are
the professionals at GCMHP or other organizations. If Israel puts the whole
population responsible for the acts of individuals it is unable to
apprehend, then the whole Israeli society is responsible for the massacres
its army is committing in Gaza and the West Bank. It is a sick logic that
Israel feels free to use, while blaming others when they do likewise.

We call upon all the voices of humanity to call upon the Israeli government
and diplomatic missions worldwide to stop its flagrant violations of human
rights.

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Gaza Community Mental Health Program is a non-profit Palestinian
non-governmental organization established in 1990 to provide mental health
support to a community direly in need of such services. Visit their
website at: http://www.gcmhp.net/