February 1, 2020
Updated: Jan 31, 2020
February 1, 2020
Welcome to the Health and Human Rights Media Watch. This month we are combining two months’ worth of submissions. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to share the newsletter with your colleagues and communities and encourage them to join the JVP Health Advisory Council. Thanks to all who have contributed!
· Seven years ago, amid Israel's ongoing siege, the UN predicted that Gaza could be unlivable by 2020. But analysts say that moment arrived long ago. In Gaza, unemployment has reached nearly 50 percent, the per-person ratio of doctors and nurses has dropped, more than two-thirds of households are food insecure, and just three percent of Gaza's aquifer water is safe to drink, according to official statistics and aid agencies.
· More Than 2 Million Palestinians in Gaza Face Humanitarian Crisis.
Nearly half of Gaza's population, including more than 400,000 university graduates, is unemployed. 70% of those under age 30 cannot find work. Most people in Gaza do not have enough to eat. More than 60% of all households are short of food. The health system is on the verge of collapse. Many doctors have left for well-paying jobs abroad. Medicines, medical supplies and equipment are in short supply. Many of the thousands of people who have been injured by gunshot wounds while exercising free speech are at risk of losing limbs because the surgeons, medication and supplies needed to prevent amputations are unavailable.
· Only 40% of Gaza’s children are consuming water that is fit for human consumption, a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
Sara Roy of Harvard University's Centre for Middle Eastern studies, who is considered the leading scholar on Gaza’s economy, has written that “innocent human beings, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned in Gaza by the water drink and likely by the soil in which they plant.” Water is contaminated by sewerage, salination, bacteria, and military contamination.
· The suffering of people wounded in conflict zones is being compounded by what doctors say are “horrifying levels” of antibiotic resistance.
This is especially true in Gaza for the victims of sniper fire. Bone and tissue biopsies have shown that 83% of patients seen by Medicine Sans Frontier in Gaza have infections. Of those with infections, 62% have multi-resistant organisms like MRSA (methicillin resistant staph aureus).
Residents of Rafah, a city of 240,000 in southern Gaza, are campaigning for a new and modern hospital.
The only public general hospital in Rafah, Abu Yousef al-Najjar, is overcrowded, under-supplied, and incapable of dealing with routine health care needs as well as injuries sustained in the Great March of Return.
· A Palestinian teenager active in the Great March of Return, repeatedly wounded, and finally taken into custody by Israeli security while breaching the perimeter, returned home a year later in a body bag.
His death is unexplained.
· Gazan Girl Fights Cancer Alone at West Bank Hospital: Israel Won’t Let Her Parents Join Her.
Gideon Levy uses the story of Miral Abu Amsha, a ten-year old Gazan girl undergoing aggressive chemotherapy in Najah University Hospital, Nablus, to illustrate the situation of dozens of Gazan children currently in similar circumstances because Israel refuses to allow one or both parents to leave Gaza to accompany them. According to Physicians for Human Rights Israel, between October 2018 and July 2019, 20% of Gazan children (116 children out of 536) undergoing treatment outside of Gaza were forced to do so without their parents.
· Anxiety and trauma inflicted on children receiving health care outside of Gaza as well as their families as a result of Israel’s restrictions on movement.
Between October 2018 and July 2019, 21 percent of children who were treated outside the strip were not accompanied by their parents, compared to 56 percent between February and September 2018.
· In response to economic desperation for Gazan families, children in Gaza are working part- or even full-time, earning an average of $28 a month.
· Schools in Gaza are being forced to cope with the grief and trauma of children who have lost friends and classmates to Israeli attacks.
· Ranna Al Ramlawi is a 24-year old Palestine refugee from Gaza: one sculptor's journey through blockade.
Her father suffers from Parkinson's disease, leaving him unable to move or work. Ranna’s mother is a teacher at an UNRWA school in the besieged strip. Despite these challenges Ranna, one of nine children, managed to create a window of hope through art.
· Israel is punishing human rights defenders for exposing its violations by restricting their movement under the pretense of “security.”
A young Palestinian man working for Amnesty International is prevented from accompanying his mother for chemotherapy in East Jerusalem or attending an aunt’s funeral in Jordan for unstated “security reasons.” The growing list of human rights defenders who are detained, attacked, denied entry, or facing deportation or travel bans illustrates the heavy price they are forced to pay for carrying out their vital work of protecting and promoting basic rights and freedoms.
· In solidarity with Moath Amarneh, a photojournalist from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem who lost an eye to an attack while working, media professionals and their supporters have launched a campaign against the targeting of Palestinian journalists by Israeli forces.
· Subject to below minimum wage jobs, no pay slips, and arbitrary layoffs in Israeli settlements, Palestinian women under occupation are learning more about their rights and are beginning to unionize.
On December 3, 15 of the 20 employees of the “Mevashlim Bishvilech” factory in the industrial zone of Mishor Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, went on a two-day strike demanding fair wages and social benefits according to Israeli law, after they said the company’s management cut about NIS 1,000 from their wages in October. The company also refused to pay for holidays or past debts owed to the employees, they said. The striking employees, most of whom are Palestinian women who were leading a work strike demanding their employee rights for the first time, were unionized by the labor organization Workers Advice Center (WAC-MAAN) trade union in September.
· Al-Haq, a Ramallah-based human rights group, urged the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to publish a database listing companies that “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The database was created in 2016 after the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) voted the resolution instructing the OHCHR to create a list of businesses engaged in activities in Israel’s settlements.
According to Al Haq, “… three years since the adoption of resolution 31/36 and more than two years of its initial scheduled release at the 34th HRC session, the OHCHR is yet to release the U.N. database”.
Israel has called the database a blacklist and with the support of the United States, has been diplomatically working behind the scenes to prevent its publication and while pressuring for its elimination.
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) is defending Palestinian child detainees transferred from the occupied West Bank to an Israeli prison, an action described by DCIP as a war crime.
The children initially refused food in protest against the illegal transfer and dreadful prison conditions.
· Israel announces seven ‘Nature Reserves’ in Occupied West Bank
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s defense minister, announced the approval of seven nature reserves in illegally occupied sites located in Area C of the West Bank, an area that includes the Jordan Valley and that is nearly exclusively administered by Israel. “Today we provide a big boost for the Land of Israel and continue to develop the Jewish communities in Area C, with actions, not with words…The Judea and Samaria area has nature sites with amazing views. We will expand the existing ones and also open new ones.”
The designated reserves reach about 5,300 hectares, some 40 percent of it under private Palestinian ownership, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.
“Israeli laws regulating nature reserves would not allow Palestinians to cultivate their own land anymore.”
· Born without civil rights: Israel’s use of draconian military orders to repress Palestinians in the West Bank.
In 1967 the Israeli army issued Military Order 101 which criminalizes West Bank Palestinian participation in gatherings of more than ten people without a permit on an issue “that could be construed as political,” punishable by a sentence of up to ten years. It further prohibits publishing material “having a political significance” or displaying “flags or political symbols” without army approval.
More than 52 years later, the Israeli army continues to prosecute and imprison Palestinians under the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 and Military Order 101 of 1967.
Human Rights Watch issued an extensive report which focuses on specific Israeli military orders which follow from Military Order 101 and which unlawfully restrict the rights of free assembly, association, expression and press for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
· More than 2,000 Palestinian children have been unable to attend preschool since Israel cancelled school bus service, the only means of transportation available, in villages slated for eventual demolition to make way for Israeli settlements.
· More than 600 residents have been arrested since the launch of regular police raids in Isawiyeh.
The use of force, nighttime arrests, questioning not in the presence of their parents, rides in patrol cars for intimidation and unnecessary handcuffing – these are just some of the violations of the rights of minors arrested by police in the Isawiyah neighborhood of Jerusalem over the past few months.
· Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association's Nov. 2019 newsletter provides a comprehensive overview of many of the major human rights issues that Palestinian prisoners face when in Israeli custody.
From January through November 2019, 5190 Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli military. 460 of these people are being held in Administrative Detention, prohibited from receiving legal representation, not allowed to know their charges nor to view the evidence against them. 185 of the prisoners are children. Individual stories, an overview of Addameer's work and more can be found in the newsletter.
“Palestine: 2019 in Review” reports on the number of Palestinians killed and injured in Israeli prisons as well as many other health-related issues.
· Israel breaches law, transfers 34 Palestinian minors from prisons.
The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) transferred 34 Palestinian children from Ofer prison in Ramallah to Damoun prison in Haifa without any stated reason and without the presence of adults to represent them. The transfer was slammed by Palestinian activists and rights organizations as illegal and dangerous.
"This move puts the minors at risk of abusive measures by the IPS in the absence of their adult overseers," the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS) said.
It also breaches the law that states prisoners under the age of 18 cannot be moved from one prison to another without at least an adult representing them. Amina al-Tawil, a researcher at the Palestinian Prisoners' Center for Studies said, "During this cold weather, the minors will not have access to heaters or even adequate clothing to keep warm …Some of them have also sustained injuries during their arrests, which can get worse throughout the move.”
"Damoun is one of the worst prisons," al-Tawil said. "Its cells… are full of mold and not fit for human conditions, and does not provide daily necessities.
The minors reportedly are being placed in solitary confinement. The adult prisoners are worried that the minors who have been transferred are at risk of being mistreated and abused, and of having their rights taken away by the prison guards at the new prison in the absence of their adult overseers.
· Protest forces Israel to relocate adult overseers with Palestinian minor prisoners.
Following protests by Palestinian prisoners against transfer of Palestinian child prisoners, 33 minor prisoners who had been transferred from the Ofer prison to solitary confinement in the Damon prison will be reunited with their adult caretakers. The Israeli prison administration declared that the adult caretakers will also be relocated along with the minors. The initial decision to move then without their adult caretakers was met with strong protests by the adult prisoners who protested this move.
· Defense of Children International – Palestine: Obaida: A short film.
Obaida is a short film which explores a Palestinian child’s experience of Israeli Military detention.
· Israel’s war on innocence: Palestinian children in Israeli military courts. According to the prisoners’ advocacy group, Addameer, there are currently 250 Palestinian children being held in Israel’s prisons. Approximately 700 Palestinian children are taken through the Israeli military court system every single year. “The most common charge levied against children is throwing stones,” reports Addameer, “a crime that is punishable under military law by up to 20 years in prison.” Middle East Monitor
· In the last months of 2019, the Israeli occupation has launched one of its most aggressive arrest campaigns against Palestinian students in recent years.
Statistics by Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization Addameer indicate that some 250 Palestinian university students are currently imprisoned by Israel. According to the Right to Education Campaign at Birzeit University, Israeli forces detained 30 students from the leading Palestinian institution alone over a period of four months.
· Indigenous Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and apartheid, with no control over the land or natural resources, are highly vulnerable to the climate crisis. With Israel monopolizing resources, rising temperatures are exacerbating desertification and water and land scarcity, and creating climate apartheid. Israel “greenwashes” its image, while destroying the environment. BDS is a powerful nonviolent strategy to counter Israeli policy.
· From approving brutal interrogation techniques to writing false medical reports, doctors in Israel have taken an active role in the torture of Palestinian prisoners.
“History teaches us that doctors everywhere easily and effectively internalize the regime’s values, and many of them become loyal servants of the regime.” According to Dr. Ruchama Marton, “Torture — which includes both mental and physical cruelty — continues to take place on a large scale…Because the real goal of torture and humiliation is to break the spirit and body of the prisoner.”
· Palestinians are systematically tortured while in Israeli detention.
The Shin Bet is authorized to use "exceptional methods" to extract information “in cases of necessity,” a practice Amnesty International calls “legally sanctioned torture.”
At year’s end, Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) documented extensive evidence of ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian detainees in Israeli interrogation centers.
· Netanyahu Advisor Pushing Plan to Cut Benefits, Wages for Foreign Workers.
Avi Simhon, the Prime Minister’s advisor on economic affairs, has proposed a plan to free employers from paying into pension funds for foreign workers and to allow them to pay less than minimum wage. Critics observe that the proposal violates current laws and international treaties, to which Israel is a signator, including the international covenant on social rights. “My set of values is hierarchical. On the top are the citizens of Israel, with foreign workers below them,” Simhon said.
Palestinian activists launched a campaign to release 81-year old Fuad al-Shobaki, the oldest Palestinian prisoner currently held in an Israeli jail.
Shobaki was a senior general in the Palestinian Authority's security forces who was arrested in 2002 on charges (that he denied) that he had masterminded the Karen A, a ship that carried weapons from Iran at the height of the Second Intifada and was seized by the Israeli marine forces.
· Baby Dies in Unregulated Daycare in South Tel Aviv: City Failed to Use 70% of Funding for Facilities.
Awarded 56 million shekels ($16.2 million) four years ago by the state to establish regulated daycare centers for children of asylum seekers, Tel Aviv has so far spent only 18 million shekels, housing an additional 570 children; an estimated 1500 children are “warehoused” in unregulated facilities around the city. The death of a 7-month old girl in one such facility is the seventh child’s death in unsupervised “warehouses” since 2015. The Refugee Rights Forum blames “intentional government policy that abuses [children of asylum seekers] and their parents.”
· Netanyahu Boasts about Israel’s Growing Economy, But Poverty Reports Paints a Very Grim Picture.
Netanyahu, who is also Minister of Welfare, praised a new report by Israel’s National Insurance Institute for concluding that poverty rates in Israel had slightly improved since 2017. In fact, the report describes growing poverty especially among children and the elderly and is critical of the government’s “weak” response. Journalists were given only three hours to review the report before its publication, whose section titles often contradict its conclusions. Although Israel reduced the poverty rate by 0.2 percent, it remains at an estimated 20.4% for individuals and close to 30% for children and between 27-32% for the elderly. Strikingly, Israel’s estimated poverty rate before government intervention is lower than OECD average (22 v. 28% ) but higher when government intervention is added in (16.8 v. 11.5). Israel placed fourth from the bottom of the OECD list, following the US, South Korea and Turkey.
· New Report Shows Significant Discrepancy in Life Expectancy Between Israeli Cities.
Findings show that Arabs can expect to live shorter lives than Jews, irrespective of the specific geographic area in which they live.
· Israeli Court Delays Test of Offshore Gas Rig as Local People Decry Threat of Pollutants.
Environmental group Zalul, with local municipalities south of Haifa, submitted a petition to the Jerusalem High Court to delay testing of a new natural gas facility offshore called Leviathan, operated chiefly by Houston-based Noble Energy. The test would release “large quantities” of carcinogens. The petition for a delay was granted. The permit, granted by the Environmental Protection Ministry, allowed Noble to monitor its own pollutants and did not require benzene monitoring. The judge noted that the permit failed to protect the public.
· Check out this interactive and constantly updated website that tracks US-Israeli state violence.-Israeli State Violence from Palestine to Your City
· Japan contributes over US$ 11 million for food, education and sanitation for Palestine refugees.
Japan committed to provide 1,214,000,000 Japanese Yen (approximately US$ 11.15 million) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). JPY 600,000,000 (US$ 5.51 million) will immediately enable UNRWA to continue to provide food assistance to 98,000 Palestine refugees in Gaza through the Social Security Net Programme (SSNP) and, thus, help mitigate the impact of poverty and food insecurity to those most in need. An additional JPY 614,000,000 (US$ 5.64 million) will contribute to the construction of a school in the Gaza Strip that will provide 1,000 students access to quality education. In addition, it will also support the construction of a sewerage system in Ein el-Sultan camp in the West Bank to improve the living conditions there.
· World Bank Invests US$9 Million in Palestinian Early Childhood Development.
The World Bank announced a new grant of US$9 million to improve Palestinian early childhood development. The project will expand coverage and quality of services for Palestinian children from gestation until age five. The 2018 Human Capital Index (HCI) indicates that a Palestinian child born today will only be 55 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. The project will support pre-natal care for pregnant women, adequate child nutrition and growth monitoring, as well as early learning opportunities that are crucial to a child’s development.
· A global review of 20 significant impacts of the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement for freedom, justice and equality in 2019.