Israeli group demands: stop our country hurting Palestinians
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for human rights in the Gaza Strip spoke out in Hampstead this week to raise awareness of Palestinian suffering. The speakers were prominent members of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – a group aiming to secure medical
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for human rights in the Gaza Strip spoke out in Hampstead this week to raise awareness of Palestinian suffering.
The speakers were prominent members of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel - a group aiming to secure medical treatment for Palestinians living in Gaza who are denied access to hospitals by the Israeli regime.
Newsreader Jon Snow chaired the debate on Monday night, which took place at the Interchange Studios in Hampstead Town Hall. He called for the world to send a message to Israel.
Dr Ruchama Marton, founder and acting president of PHR-Israel, said: "Twenty years ago we were shocked to see the Israeli army breaking hands, legs and sometimes heads with clubs.
"Twenty years later people are killed almost every day by bombs from Apache helicopters or aeroplanes or shelling from tanks with horrible flechette shells.
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"These shells contain hundreds of nails and are designed to kill as many people as possible - it is one of the most horrible ways to die."
The audience heard about individual cases where young Palestinian men had legs amputated after suffering gunshot wounds because the Israeli regime would not allow them access to hospitals the other side of the border.
Cancer sufferers in Gaza are regularly denied life-saving radiology treatment, the speakers said, and the Israel Medical Association does nothing to stem the tide.
The director of PHR-Israel's occupied territories department, Miri Weingarten, spoke about the influence of the General Security Services and the Israeli High Court of Justice in deciding whether to allow patients to leave the country to receive medical treatment.
"We try to reverse decisions if patients are refused a pass. But today, if a person gets a rejection for security reasons that's it," she said.
"It's difficult to say how many people have died because of the prevention of access because these are diseases that kill. But a lot of patients don't even start the process because they know it's hopeless."
She said that once security discussions start they are held behind closed doors and there is never any chance of public scrutiny.
The group's executive director Hadas Ziv said the Israeli government rules through fear and messages of false hope and called for the United Nations and the World Health Organisation to do more to call Israel to account.
"This is no longer just an Israeli occupation - it's no longer a local conflict," she said.
"Is this apartheid, is this an occupation? It's a mish-mash of everything.
"Because I am an Israeli and because I care for Israel, I care for both peoples. The rest of the world has to be honest with Israel and say 'I'm going to boycott you - here's a warning'. But so far we have heard nothing from the rest of the world."
Summing up at the end of the evening, newsreader Mr Snow, who lives in Kentish Town, said: "It's a grave difficulty for Gaza. I think the internet is by far the best chance we have of making progress - through citizen journalism, not the media.
"We have had the pleasure of meeting three extraordinary Israeli women this evening. I think they need a wider audience. People should try to get their MPs to hear what they have got to say. If money is raised, it should be used to bring them back - they need to have bigger opportunities to speak to the people who need to know."
The evening was organised by the Medical Committee for Palestine. For more information on how to help visit www.