8 November 2000

Public Statement  On The Situation in Palestine

In light of the violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis, and their tragic consequences, the following medical organizations convened in Paris, this Friday, 3 November 2000: Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), Physicians for Human Rights-Israel; Medecins du Monde. The three organizations decided to continue cooperation towards alleviating the suffering of the people and improving the health and humanitarian situation in Palestine.

Following the meeting, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme takes the opportunity to point the a few points. Up to this day, more than 200 people have been killed and thousands have been wounded. The vast majority of the casualties are Palestinians. Moreover, dozens of Palestinian ambulances have been hit by Israeli gunfire. Many Palestinian medical personnel have been killed or wounded while providing care for victims despite the fact that they wore vests identifying them as medical staff.

Roadblocks erected in order to impose an internal closure in the West Bank are probably responsible for the death of at least two Palestinian patients, who were delayed on their way to receive medical care. Moreover, the closure imposed by Israel prevents the freedom of movement of both medical personnel and patients, and the provision and distribution of basic medical equipment and pharmaceutical products in certain areas.

There has been overwhelming evidence of killing in cold blood by the Israeli army, and protecting settlers who attack Palestinians. This evidence has been documented by a number of international organizations, most notably the UN High Commission for Human Rights.

Israel is an occupying force whose presence in Palestinian areas is illegal according to international law. The illegal occupation, settlement activity, and continued deprivation of Palestinian rights are the root causes of the confrontations.

Therefore, GCMHP:

- Request the provision of international protection for the Palestinian people.
- Calls for the immediate Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian areas and the implementation of all UN resolutions concerning the Palestinian people.
- Calls upon the Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority to respect the Geneva Convention relating to the evacuation of the wounded from hostility areas.
- Calls upon the Israeli government to apply the Geneva Convention and its protocols regarding the free passage of medical personnel and guarantee medical and humanitarian assistance to the population.
- Alerts the international community regarding the tragic consequences of the closure on the health of the Palestinian population.
- Demands the complete freedom of movement of medical professionals, patients, and victims of violence.

Every day that passes produces new victims. GCMHP urges both sides of the conflict and the international community to act urgently in search of a just political solution to the conflict. This solution should guarantee the dignity of all people in the area, and respect the right of both nations to live in their own respective states, peacefully, securely and in mutual respect, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.

Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj
Board of Directors