MAP delivers statement at the UN on right to health of Palestinians

This week Medical Aid for Palestinians' (MAP)'s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Neil Sammonds, delivered a statement on the right to health of Palestinians at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

Thank you Mr President,

Medical Aid for Palestinians welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, which finds Israel to have been in profound breach of its obligations regarding Palestinians’ right to health.

Palestinian health provision is repeatedly undermined by lack of protection and absence of accountability. Israeli military offensives on Gaza between 2008 and 2014, damaged or destroyed 147 hospitals and clinics and 80 ambulances, and killed 39 medical workers. No independent investigations were established or otherwise permitted by Israel regarding these incidents. Raids of health centres and offences against medical teams in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank are similarly carried our brazenly, often with violence and always with impunity.

The development of health services is obstructed. The building of permanent Palestinian health facilities in Area C is prohibited. Entry into Gaza of reconstruction materials and some medical supplies is restricted. Health workers are often refused permission to travel across the oPt or abroad for training. Gaza’s health sector is close to collapse.

Access to healthcare is substantially impeded, most gravely for Palestinians in Gaza. In 2017 Israeli authorities approved just 54% of exit permits in time for patients to make scheduled medical appointments outside Gaza, the lowest rate on record. 54 people died in 2017 after the denial or delay of such a permit. Most were cancer sufferers.

One of these people was ‘Abeer Abu-Jayyab, who had breast cancer and attended a MAP supported women’s health centre. Abeer needed Herceptin treatment, unavailable in Gaza. But Israel repeatedly refused her permission to travel to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. The cancer spread, and she died on 8 June.

Many member states support Palestinians with aid and development assistance, but this appears to be inadequately matched with commitment to demanding the adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law which would sustainably promote and protect Palestinians’ right to health.

MAP therefore calls on the Human Rights Council and members to:

  1. Ensure accountability for all violations of international law, including attacks on medical infrastructure and personnel;
  2. Demand that Israel remove the obstacles to free movement which undermine health, healthcare and development; and
  3. Take action to end the occupation and the unlawful blockade and closure of Gaza.

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