At Tel Aviv airport, doctors belonging to Gretta Duisenberg's Medical
Fact Finding Mission Palestine, have been denied entry to the country.
Mrs. Duisenberg said the athmosphere at the airport wat utterly grim,
and she gave the following statement to the press:
"We the Medical Fact Finding Mission Palestine, declare that we have
not only been informed, but have now even experienced, that the
Israeli state is conducting a policy of deliberate obstruction of
both foreign and Palestinian medical workers.
The Israeli government has decided not to allow our medical-
humanitarian team through customs at Ben Gurion Airport. This way, it
effectively sabotages our research mission in the Palestinian
territories. In medical care, the continuous re-evaluation of health
care facilities is one of the cornerstones in building a healthy
society. As medical doctors and health workers, it is our concern to
see systems of medical care functioning smoothly, unhindered by any
blockades or obstructions.
The facts and figures that we have obtained from various sources,
including the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, indicate
that the facts, concerning the continuing Israeli damage to
Palestinian health care, are dramatic. Also, the press release issued
by the International Committee of the Red Cross on June 17th 2003,
clearly implicates that among other breaches of the 4th Geneva
Convention, the occupation forces are engaged in actively blocking
access to medical care
The goal of our mission was to research whether there was evidence of
deliberate obstruction of medical care. However, the Israeli
government has made it impossible for us to investigate this issue.
It is time for the international community to intervene, by demanding
from the United Nations to send a team of UN medical inspectors into
the West Bank and Gaza, and to take over our urgent and necessary
mission, that the Israeli government has prevented us from
We intend to pursue all legal mechanisms to address the violations of
humanitarian law, in order to ensure that those responsible for the
violations of international humanitarian law will be held
Further information about the programme, press conferences and
interviews can be obtained from: Wim Lankamp, at +31-6-28916795 or
Karel van Broekhoven at +31-23-5245876 .
The delegation consists of Gretta Duisenberg, chairperson of Stop the
Occupation, Tariq Shadid, general surgeon, and Henri van de Vall,
internist from the Netherlands. The Belgian doctors are Prof. Guido
van Ham, internist, Colette Moulaert, paediatrician, and Sofie
Blancke, general and tropical medicine.
The Union of Health Work Committees
June 23, 2003
The Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip is keen on drawing the attention of the international community
to the Israeli oppressive measures applied against the Palestinian
People and those working in humanitarian relief and solidarity with
The Union deeply condemns the denial of the Israeli government to
allow a Belgian humanitarian physicians delegation to enter Palestine
on 23/6/2003 and turning it back to Belgium. This delegation was
scheduled to visit the Palestinian territories, participate in health
activities and get acquainted with the health and humanitarian status
of Palestinians. Nevertheless, it was denied entry to the land.
We in the Union of Health Work Committees also warn from the risks of
the brutal Israeli measures conveyed in the killings and
assassinations of Palestinians in addition to home demolitions and
closure and besiegement of cities and villages. For example:
yesterdays operation that resulted in the killing of five
Palestinians and the injury of tens.
Mobility of medical teams is restricted. Furthermore, they were shot
at while performing their duties. Hospitals and medical centers were
raided by the Israeli military. In mid-June, one of the UHWC's
ambulance vehicles was attacked and Halhoul Medical Center was barged
in from which the injured were kidnapped and transported by Israeli
military vehicles to unidentified locations.
The continuation of such policies seriously endangers the health of
Palestinian children, women and elderly.
We call upon the International Community to act on the immediate
termination of such acts.
We also request that the Israeli government is pressured to instantly
stop its killing and destruction policy and that it retreats its
forces from Palestinian lands.
Dr. Naim Abu Teir
Dr. Rabah Muhanna
The Union of Health Work Committees