70 years ago nearly 750,000 Palestinians fled their land between 1948 and 1949. For the last seven Fridays the Palestinians of Gaza have been demonstrating demanding the right to return for the 5.3 million Palestinians recognised as refugees by UNWRA and calling for their fundamental rights to be respected.
However, the use of force by the Israeli army has cast a tragic shadow over these demonstrations. To this date Monday 14th, the number of Palestinians killed had reached 80 and over 8,500 had been injured. The demonstrations currently taking place in Gaza and the West Bank give rise to fears for the worst.
Healthcare staff and medical facilities are also targeted by abusive Israeli attacks. More than 169 healthcare staff have been injured and 19 ambulances damaged. Gaza’s healthcare system is facing shortages of essential medicines and does not have sufficient resources to treat all those who have been injured. According to OCHA, one third of the 148 types of essential medicines needed to treat the patients’ injuries are not currently available in the Gaza Strip.
Unfortunately, this is not a new situation for the Palestinians in Gaza. Over the course of the past 11 years they have already seen three wars with Israel and have been living under a land, air and sea blockade. This blockade, which is described by the international community as a collective punishment, has direct repercussions on the lives of Palestinians, imposing barriers on healthcare and medication access, to drinking water, food, electricity and free movement.
Dr Jean-François Corty, Director of International Operations for MdM France, recalls this situation saying: “With just a few hours of electricity per day, coupled with the difficulty of importing drugs and medical supplies and of referring patients to the appropriate facilities, the blockade is having disastrous effects on the health of civilians. The inhumanity inflicted on the people of Gaza in what has become an open-air prison must be condemned”.
The Gaza Strip is not the only place where Palestinians suffer from Israeli abuses. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, settlement-building has intensified every year since 1967. There are currently nearly 600,000 settlers and 150 settlements, in complete violation of international law. For this reason, Resolution 2334 of the United Nations Security Council of 23 December 2016 calls for the “immediate cessation” of Israeli settlement activities.
MdM France operates in Gaza and the West Bank. Every day our teams receive, treat and support Palestinian victims of this terrible situation. In the Gaza Strip, MdM is supporting healthcare facilities with their emergency preparedness. In the Nablus region, MdM provides psychosocial support to victims of settlers and Israeli army violence.
It is with full knowledge of the difficulties and the international humanitarian law violations noticed every day on the ground that MdM is calling on the international community to demand that the Israeli authorities:
‐ cease the use of force against civilians;
‐ respect Palestinians’ right to life, health and protest ;
‐ stop settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and put an unconditional end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Finally, an independent and transparent international inquiry must be established to investigate the incidents on the border with Gaza.