December 10th, 2006
On the Occasion of the "International Human Rights
Occupation and Siege are a Systematic Policy of Impoverishment of Palestinian
Today marks the 58th anniversary of the International Human Rights day. It
is the day the UN declared the issuance of the "International Declarations
of Human Rights" to put new international foundations for enforcing and respecting
the sacred life and dignity of human beings.
It might be a co-incidence for the birth of this declaration with the anniversary
of the Palestinian uprooting in 1948, still experienced by Palestinians up
This year, the occasion is designated to focus on efforts of eliminating
poverty worldwide under the theme "Fighting Poverty is a Matter of Obligation
not Charity" for the mere fact that poverty is a genuine dilemma penetrating
all over the world, particularity in developing countries.
This occasion comes as Palestine and the whole region are immersed in continuing
incidents of violence, political instability, and violations of human rights.
Although the Israeli unilateral disengagement plan from Gaza led to absence
of the physical existence of Israeli army from inside Gaza, it did not end
the effective control of Palestinian civilian life; thus converting Gaza
into a big prison with tremendous political, and socio-economical problems
Israel has continued its policies of assassination, closures, expansion of
settlements, and building the separation wall in the West Bank. Israel continued
with its policy of strict political and economical siege, through policies
of closures, restrictions, and more than 520 checkpoints partitioning the
whole OPT and restricting freedom of movement. Israel persisted to use the
policies of political assassinations, targeting innocent civilians and objects,
confiscating land, uprooting trees, demolishing homes, and preventing citizens
from using their natural resources such as land, water, and fishing wealth.
All such measures lead to impoverishment of Palestinian people through systematic
policies of deprivation of resources including; natural resources and developmental
and humanitarian assistance provided to Palestinians by the international
community. In a recent report published by UNRWA, it was indicated that more
than 64% of Palestinians live under poverty line. The report also mentioned
that the conditions are alarming, where more than one million Palestinians
in the OPT live in extreme poverty.
The unjust siege imposed by the international community, following the Palestinian
democratic elections and the constitution of the Palestinian government by
Hamas, contributed further to a huge increase in poverty and unemployment
amongst Palestinians, particularly after the inability of the PA to pay the
salaries of more than 160,000 public servants for the last 10 month. Consequently,
such situation led to dangerous humanitarian and psychological repercussions.
Poverty has serious negative consequences on the psychosocial functioning
of individuals, leading to an increase in mental disorders in general. For
poor people, there is more increase in depression, anxiety, and somatization
disorders. Moreover, poverty contributes to an increase in the rate of relapses
among mental health patients.
The psychological suffering is reflected in the high levels of domestic,
tribal, and community violence in general. Such violence is the main factor
in the continuation of violence and instability in the whole region.
The international community has a responsibility today more than ever to
find new mechanisms to enforce international law and ensure adherence to
it. They should work on ensuring that all human beings, wherever they are,
have equal opportunities and access to resources, which will lead to enforcement
and protection of human rights, dignity, and achieving security & peace
On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, we at the Gaza Community
Mental Health Programme, call upon the international community, especially
the signatories of the 4th Geneva Convention, and human rights organizations
to fulfill their responsibilities and urge all countries to respect articles
of international law. We, also, urge them to pressure Israel to prevent its
continued violations of Palestinian human rights with all of its forms, and
to urgently act on lifting the political and economical siege imposed on
the Palestinian People.
Again, on the International Human Rights Day, we hope to convert the slogan
"Fighting Poverty is a Matter of Obligation not Charity" into a reality.
Gaza Community Mental Health Programme