12 April 2017
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has today released the third in our series of briefings investigating the impact of 50 years of Israel’s military occupation on the health and dignity of Palestinians.
This third chapter exposes how the political and social conditions endured by Palestinians – including breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law – undermine their psychological wellbeing and cause unnecessary trauma and suffering.
The briefing emphasises that psychological wellbeing is an intrinsic aspect of the right to health. This was echoed by the UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health recently, who stated: “there can be no health without mental health and everyone is entitled to an environment that promotes health, well-being, and dignity.”
The chapter demonstrates how half a century of occupation has denied Palestinians this environment. Instead, Palestinians have been exposed to regular and often deadly violence, engendering direct risks of psychological trauma and negative mental health outcomes among the population. The briefing also explores how restrictions on free movement, harassment by Israeli settlers, regular contact with a foreign occupying military force, and demolitions of homes and livelihoods pose constant threats to the mental wellbeing of Palestinians living under occupation.
“There is a need of a shift in investments in mental health, from focusing on "chemical imbalances" to focusing on "power imbalances" and inequalities.”
UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Health
The briefing emphasises how the presence of an occupying military force can be particularly damaging to the mental wellbeing of children, particularly those exposed to frequent violent conflict, or arrested and detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Our briefing stresses the legal obligation of Israel, as the occupying power, to respect the right to health of Palestinians. It calls on Governments like the UK to take action to ensure Israel meets this obligation by refraining from actions which undermine the physical and psychological wellbeing of Palestinians, and ensuring accountability for breaches of international law.
To read the briefing paper, click here.
In June, Palestinians will mark 50 years under occupation, and a decade under blockade in Gaza. Palestinians and people across Britain are calling on the UK government to take action to bring these man-made humanitarian crises to an end.