"A Legacy of Injustice"
- A Critique of Israeli Approaches to the Right to Health
of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories
PHR-Israel held a press conference today, October 28th, 2002,
to mark the publication of its report "A Legacy of Injustice",
which addresses the question of how Israel has approached
the right to health of Palestinian residents of the
Occupied Territories from the start of the occupation,
through the Oslo accords up to the present, including the
current Intifada and Israeli operations 'Defensive Shield'
and 'Determined Path'.
Among the speakers were
Brigadier General (retired) Prof. Eran Dolev, formerly
Chief Medical Officer in the IDF and Head of the Ethics
Committee of the Israel Medical Association (IMA),
Palestinian poet Salman Natour,
PHR-Israel's Chairman Dr. Ilan Gull,
and the author of the report, Ms. Hadas Ziv.
Professor Dolev emphasized that Israeli policies in the
Occupied Territories divorce responsibility from control,
and that this denial of responsibility will ultimately affect
Israeli society, which has become apathetic to human
suffering in general. Mr. Natour spoke movingly of his
futile search for logic in the irrational reality of
The report includes a brief historical review of health
services provided by Israel in the Occupied Territories
prior to the peace negotiations, as well as an analysis of
the clauses in the Oslo Accords relating to transfer of
healthcare responsibilities to the Palestinian Authority.
PHR-Israel shows how Israeli approaches, as reflected in
the accords, are the basis for the maladies of the
Palestinian health system - and its destruction - today.
A discussion follows of the situation created in the
Occupied Territories following the signing of the accords.
Israel's continued control of many aspects of Palestinian
civilian life (e.g., border crossings, import policies, lands,
housing, registration, etc.), which are themselves
prerequisites for health, prevented the development of
an independent Palestinian medical system capable of
providing adequate healthcare.
The report then describes reality on the ground in the
years following the Oslo Accords, analyzing PHR-Israel's
high court petitions submitted throughout these years
with a view to curbing the rapid deterioration in Israeli policies.
Case histories are presented and analyzed, illustrating
the consequences of Israeli approaches and the
shortcomings of the Oslo Accords. This chapter
demonstrates how the signing of the accords led many to
believe that the occupation had ended, while in fact its
language enabled a more formal - and more permanent
- form of occupation and control, while absolving Israel
of the responsibilities involved.
From the report's recommendations:
As long as the occupation continues, the State of Israel
is obliged to undertake in Israeli hospitals medical
procedures that cannot be implemented in the Occupied
Territories. Israel must also enable the free passage of
Palestinian residents within the Occupied Territories,
in order to enable the medical, economic and
educational infrastructures to begin to function once
more. Such travel must not be dependent on permits
from the Civil Administration.
If and when peace agreements are signed between Israel
and the Palestinians bringing the occupation to a
complete end, and establishing an independent
Palestinian state, Israel will be required, for a transitional
period, to continue receiving Palestinian patients for
care, and at the same time to assist in developing
foundations for an independent Palestinian health
system, within the framework of existing Palestinian civil
systems as well as international assistance. Given the
legacy of occupation and the damage this has caused
the Palestinian health system, as described in this report,
Israel's commitment to provide such assistance is both
moral and legal.
In short, PHR-Israel demands that Israel remove all
restrictions on movement in the Occupied Territories,
and enable Palestinian and international bodies to
operate in the field, and - at last - to develop an
independent health system that is both economically and
For details contact
Hadas Ziv, Director of the Occupied Territories Project
or Michal Rapoport, Public Outreach
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is a non-partisan,
non-profit organization founded in 1988, comprising
some 650 members who combat Israeli health and
human rights violations, and strive to ensure equal and
adequate health services for all.
Tel: 972 3 6873718
Fax: 972 3 6873029
mail AT phr.org.il
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