Tag Archives: Palestinian territories

Israel and Its Health Services

By Michael Curtis

The campaign against Israel, with fustian rhetoric and military assaults, continues by and on behalf of Syria, a country displaying its concern for human rights and civil discourse by slaughtering an estimated 80,000 of its own population.


It is not unexpected that the ruthless Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, though involved in a two-year civil war with rebel forces including extreme Islamists such as the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria, would at some point target Israeli facilities.


For more than 35 years, a virtual if conditional calm has reigned along the frontline between Israel and Syria.  On May 21, 2013, however Syria claimed that its troops had destroyed an Israeli vehicle that had crossed the cease-fire line into its territory, a claim that Israel denied for two reasons.  The vehicle was damaged but not destroyed, and no Israeli personnel were injured, and the vehicle had been patrolling on the Israeli side of a border fence.


The Israeli military had no desire for the Syrian conflict to spill over into the Golan Heights.  It is also anxious about the threat to Israel from the success of the rebel Islamist forces that have seized a 15-mile buffer zone stretching from Muzrib near the Jordanian border to Abdin in the Golan Heights, and an air base in Dara’a.  As a consequence, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have raised their alert status.


Assad had already shown his continuing hostility to Israel by cross-border gunfire from Syria, and by allowing Hezb’allah to acquire armed transfers, advanced missiles, anti-aircraft weapons, and long-range ground-to-ground missiles.  Yet the incident on May 21 was surprising both by its specific if limited intent and by its very ungraciousness.  While the Syrian civil war continues, the IDF have been authorized to help and administer first aid to Syrians — both civilians and soldiers — wounded in their civil war if they cross into Israel territory.  More serious cases have been evacuated to Israeli hospitals, particularly the Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat, for specialized treatment.  The identity of the wounded Syrians has not normally been released, nor is it clear whether they were loyal to President Assad or were rebels.


A familiar adage is that no good deed goes unpunished.  Not only is all this Israeli help and charity unappreciated by Syria, but it is disregarded in the international arena, and specifically by the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2013.  This too is somewhat surprising.  In 2012 an international team consisting of members of the Organization for Economic and Development (OECD) and other experts examined Israel’s medical services and concluded that Israel’s is one of the best health care systems in the world.


The team had visited the largest hospitals in Israel, community health fund clinics in development towns and in Arab villages, and facilities of a Bedouin town in the Negev, and had met with representatives of organizations in the Arab and Ethiopian Jewish sectors of the country.  Nevertheless, the WHO was apparently unaware of this laudatory account of Israeli medical practice.


At the meeting in May 2013 in Geneva, the WHO discussed 25 items on global issues of disease and health regulations.  Only one, no. 20, discussed one specific country — namely, Israel — and this was on the issue of “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”  Among the reports on the item were one by the Palestinians and another by Syria.  The Palestinian report spoke, in familiar fashion, of the “oppressive Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, which deprives the Palestinian citizens of their rights.”  This in a sense was surprising, because Hani Abdeen, the Palestinian Authority minister of health on May 5, 2013, had visited the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where 30 percent of the child patients are Palestinians, and spoken of the fine medical care provided by Israel for Palestinians, and of the Israeli training of 60 Palestinian doctors and specialist physicians.


The ungrateful Syrians had forgotten that a just one week earlier, an operation in an Israeli hospital had saved the life of a four-year-old Syrian girl.  Their report at the WHO conference was concerned that “[t]he health conditions of the Syrian population in the occupied Golan continue to deteriorate, as a result of the suppressive practices of the Israeli occupation.”


Absurd accusations at the meeting were plentiful.  Some were that Israel had been burying nuclear waste in more than 20 sites in the Golan, planting the ceasefire line with nuclear and radioactive land mines, and dumping 1,500 barrels of radioactive and toxic materials in secret landfills in the Golan.  Others expressed the view that Israel was using Arab and Syrian detainees in prison to use “testing medicines,” and then brutally torturing them and extracting false confessions from them.  Less exaggerated were the allegations that Israel had created a shortage of primary and tertiary health care services owing to lack of integrated medical centers in the “occupied Syrian Golan.”


Two remarks are appropriate on all this.  One is that, even admitting the existence of some inadequacies in the health condition in the disputed Palestinian territory and Golan Heights, as in all systems, the overall quality is high, as has been shown by various indicators.  This is equally true about all residents in the Golan Heights, where medical services are equal in quality to those in Israel itself.  


The other is that once again, an agency of the United Nations, this time the WHO, has been misused and lent itself to absurd and counterproductive rhetoric.  The WHO should not have been the arena where an essentially political conflict was discussed or an appropriate place for the venom of Palestinians and Syrians to be expressed.


The world would be better-served if international bodies did not abuse the rationale for their existence.  It was shameful that aside from Israel itself, only three countries — Australia, Canada, and the United States — voted against the resolution condemning Israel.


It is distressing to conclude that all the other countries are not genuinely interested in peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Arabs.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/05/israel_and_its_health_services.html#ixzz2URfRXw9T
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#Awww: Hamas’ Gaza lockdown

They just DONT get it…

Forced haircuts and abayas in occupied Palestine


by Rayan Majed

Ayman as-Sayyed is a 19 year-old Palestinian who lives in Gaza. He was arrested last week by the Hamas police who picked him up on the streets because they were bothered by his long hair. So they decided to cut it for him.


Ayman told the Associated Press how he was put in a Jeep where ten young men were being held as well, and taken to the police station “under the pretext of sporting an indecent haircut.” The young men were forced to stand while handcuffed: two lines were cut into their hair and they were told to go to a hairdresser to have the haircut completed. According to the Palestinian Human Rights Center, other youths were beaten and “detainees were forced to sign a written commitment whereby they would not wear their hair long, sport weird haircuts or put on tight pants.”


Such practices are the result of a mentality based on monopolizing power, which leads to confiscating other people’s freedoms and imposing certain values and modes of behavior on them, according to Palestinian writer Majed Kayyali, who writes “This is how totalitarian systems – especially ideological ones – work, using means of direct and symbolic violence to impose their authority.”


These renewed violations have been occurring sporadically in the Gaza Strip since 2007, the year Hamas took over the Gaza Strip as a result of internal Palestinian divisions. Palestinian writer and activist Mustapha Ibrahim says “When Hamas won the 2006 legislative elections, many Hamas officials promptly reassured people that they would not harm public and private freedoms and would commit to implementing the law. However, things were different on the field.”


In 2009, the Palestinian Higher Judicial Council issued a decision forcing female attorneys to wear the hijab in order to access courthouses. In early 2010, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs led a campaign to “spread virtue and fight attacks against public morals.” At the time, “many citizens reported that they were surprised, while with their wives or fiancées, by bearded men in civilians clothing asking them rudely for their IDs and going as far as to detain some of them or initiate pursuits against others in order to make sure of the nature of their relationship,” says Ibrahim. Hamas has since launched another campaign, this time aiming to “consolidate virtue.” Gaza’s Al-Aqsa University thus issued a decision whereby all female students have to wear the abaya (the black Muslim religious garment that covers everything from the neck down). Less than a month ago, the Hamas cabinet announced that it has implemented a new education law banning mixed-gender classes in all Gaza schools beginning at the age of nine.


Zeinab al-Ghoneimi, a women’s rights activist and director of the Council for Women’s Legal Research and Counseling in Gaza, comments: “Hamas wants to Islamize society, which is already Islamic and conservative in Gaza. In reality, male and female students are already separated as of Grade 3 in most schools, except for two or three of them. The prevailing culture here is for women to cover their hair. So what do these decisions mean?”


What is being imposed here, she argues, is a “political rather than ‘religious’ version of Islam.” Hamas is seeking to forcefully consecrate its presence by relying on religion, and to portray itself as the warrantor of ethics and values. “On the one hand, they want to show that their decisions are being heeded; that they set moral criteria and spread virtue as though people were all devoid of any morals. On the other hand, they are issuing these laws to hamper the work of any new government seeking to initiate change in the future. Furthermore, these practices instill fear and allow them to demonstrate their strength to people and portray themselves as absolute rulers.”


When human rights organizations protest against such unconstitutional laws, Hamas recants its decisions, “but not before having caused a stir among the people and allowing the movement to interfere with the details pertaining to people’s lives,” according to Zeinab al-Ghoneimi. This is exactly the feeling young Ayman as-Sayyed sought to convey to AP when he said that he is scared of the future and does not feel safe, as he can be insulted and arrested at any time for no reason whatsoever.


Both Ibrahim and Ghoneimi asserted that even when these decisions are officially revoked by the cabinet, some still prevent female attorneys from entering courthouses or assault people on the streets. The Hamas cabinet declines any responsibility in these cases, claiming that these are individual transgressions with which it has nothing to do.


Hamas’ monopoly over power, its use of violence, its interference in the private lives of citizens and its exclusion of all organizations – even allied ones – from the Gaza Strip have led to an outcry against the movement, which is losing support among the youth, according to Majed Kayyali. “This was manifested in the festival celebrating the launch of the Fatah Movement in Gaza in January 2013, knowing that Fatah had been banned in the Gaza Strip for the past six years. [The festival drew] a massive crowd and this was surprising not only for Hamas, which controls the Strip, but also for Fatah, which is in a state of organizational disrepair and is riddled with domestic conflicts. In this sense, an approximately one million-strong crowd on the Gaza square and surrounding streets voiced the complaints of Gaza’s Palestinians against Hamas violations. [Their participation] had more to do with opposing Hamas [practices] than with supporting Fatah.”


Speaking about the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza, Mustapha Ibrahim says their suffering is two-fold: “In addition to the Israeli embargo and the resulting unending poverty, injustice, and aggression, Gaza’s inhabitants find themselves besieged by Hamas with its decisions and repression of public and private freedoms due to its policy of self-sufficiency, which imposes taxes and fees to the detriment of people’s budgets.”


Zeinab al-Ghoneimi describes the situation in Gaza as depressing. People are expecting “a national reconciliation to occur and end the current division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, rather than to be oppressed, intimidated, and insulted. Many university graduates are unemployed. Unemployment, self-imposed isolation, and the inability to move [freely] lead to problematic social behavior, the price of which is paid primarily by women. Hamas is not seeking to adopt policies that alleviate this situation. On the contrary, with every security tension or Israeli threat, criminals are released from prison and political detainees remain behind bars.”


A picture shared widely on social networks showed a Palestinian policeman violently grabbing a young man by the hair with the following comment: “I thought he was an Israeli soldier.” Does Hamas realize the effects of such scenes and comparisons? Will it modify its repressive policies, which are starting to erode its popularity in the Gaza Strip? Answers remain unclear so far. One thing is certain though: Repressive practices and the current division between the West Bank and Gaza are no less damaging for the Palestinian society than the Israeli occupation.