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News Release

Canadian Health Professionals Join the International Call to End The
Humanitarian Disaster in Gaza

December 15, 2007

A group of Canadian health professionals has taken a strong stand in support of international efforts to end the siege in Gaza by organizations including the International Red Cross, Physicians for Human Rights/Israel and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. They call upon the Canadian government to support action to end the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

As a result of the siege, UNICEF reports that one in ten children is stunted, one in two is anemic and 75% under the age of five suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. There is a critical lack of health supplies and treatment facilities. As a result of extreme water and electrical shortages the sterilization of medical equipment is severely compromised. In November 2007 alone, thirteen patients died after Israeli authorities denied them access to medical care that is unavailable in Gaza.

The group demands that the Canadian government restore funds to Gaza, insist on respect for international law and support the international appeals to lift the siege.

*Humanitarian Appeal*

We are Canadian health professionals who are deeply concerned about the ever worsening conditions of everyday life in the Gaza Strip brought about by the Israeli siege. We ask the Canadian government to restore Canadian funds for projects in Gaza and to demand that Israel lift the siege which contravenes the Geneva Conventions. This appeal is part of an international humanitarian campaign initiated by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and issued by its highly respected director, Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj. For a great many years, the GCMHP has provided mental health services to Gaza’s traumatized families and has persistently advocated for human
rights.

Israel ostensibly withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but Israel continues to block all access to Gaza, completely controls its water resources, and effectually prohibits the movement of goods and people including access to emergency medical care and food.

The Israel Peace Bloc (Gush Shalom) states that “The inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are completely dependent on Israel for their most basic livelihood. This complete dependence was created, consciously and deliberately, by all governments of Israel since 1967…. The people of the Gaza Strip have already been living for a long time in terrible squalor, on the very edge of starvation. Now we push them even much deeper into hell. The state of Israel is today roughly trampling International Law, in indiscriminate collective punishments of a whole civilian population. We, too, will eventually pay the price.”

After Hamas was democratically elected in early 2006, Canada was the first of many countries to irresponsibly withdraw funds from the Palestinian government. According to the UN agencies and the World Bank, the unemployment rate is now 70% and 1.1 million of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on UN assistance to survive, with 80% of Gazans earning only $2/day. Families live on little more than tea and bread, and the closed borders mean that they are deprived of life’s necessities like soap and medicine. According to Physicians for Human Rights/Israel and Checkpoint Watch (Machsom Watch), even children, pregnant women, and critically ill people are not allowed through checkpoints to access emergency medical care. In 2006, Israel destroyed Gaza’s electrical plant and continues to limit electricity which is needed for the pumping and treatment of water.

Gazans now drink contaminated water. This last March, an uncontrolled discharge of untreated sewage that contained unexploded Israeli ordnance overwhelmed 250 homes and drowned a number of inhabitants in the village of Beit Lahiya. Under these conditions, Gaza is vulnerable to disease outbreaks of epidemic proportions.

What does siege mean on the personal level? Gaza is now described as an open air prison. Israel has the fourth largest military in the world, and the population of Gaza is under constant technological surveillance, subject to extrajudicial executions and intentional maiming of children and adults. Dr. El-Sarraj and his colleagues describe the siege, and most tragically the children who grow up under collective punishment: “those children were subjected to several traumatic and violent experiences including beating, bone-breaking, injury, tear gas and acts of killing and injury, all of which experiences have left indelible effects on their psyche. Yet, to many, the most excruciating experience was seeing their fathers beaten helpless by Israeli soldiers without resistance. Those young men who are pursuing revenge and killing and are at times seeking even their own death are the selfsame children who cherished so many dreams of a better life but saw them fade away and fall apart the moment they saw their fathers fall helpless and defenseless victims of arrogant force incarnated in the Israeli soldier. No wonder then that the Palestinian child will see his model in that Israeli soldier and that his language will be the language of force and his toys and games will be the toys and games of death.”

Gaza is one of a number of humanitarian disasters in the world that is caused by humans but that can be remedied by reparation. It is essential to acknowledge Canada’s shameful complicity in this needless disaster. As health professionals, we demand that our government restore funds to Gaza, lend humanitarian assistance to repair the extensive damage, and insist that Israel respect international humanitarian law and the appeals of innumerable international civil society groups and lift the siege.


Signatories for Gaza Humanitarian Appeal 2007

Reem Abdul-Qadir, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Elia Abu Jaoude, M.D.
Diana R. Ahmed, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Federico Allodi, M.D.
Zalman Amit, Ph.D.
Paul Antze, Ph.D. York University
Neil Arya, M.D.
Ahmed M. Bayoumi, M.D., M.Sc
Warren Bell, M.D., C.M., C.C.F.P.
Gary Bloch, M.D., F.R.C.P
Hannah Briemberg, M.D.
Barbara Burrows, ATPPP (Toronto Psychoanalytical Institute)
Andrea Cortinois, Ph.D.
Nada Dabbagh, Pharm
Dr. E.E. Daniel, Dept of Pharm U of Alberta
James Deutsch, M.D., Ph.D.
Judith Deutsch, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Louis Dionne, Dip. C.T.P. psychologist
Gordon Doctorow, Ed. D.
William F. Dryden, M.D. Professor Pharmacology and Neuroscience, U. of Alberta
Paul Duchastel, M.D.
Anne Egger, Nurse Practitioner
Mark Etkin, M.D.
Phyllis Fischer, M.D.
D.Ray Freebury, M.D
Miriam Garfinkle, M.D.
Sharon Gazeley, M.D.
Brydon Gombay, Ph.D.
Frank Guttman, M.D.
Ted Haines, M.D.
Paul Hamel, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. Medicine and Pharm
Rosalie Hawrylko, M.A., registered psychologist
Edward Hayes, R.P.N., Dip Soc Studies (London) B.Sc. Hons (LSE)
Judith Hayes, mental health professional
Debbie Honickman, M.D.
Shayna Hornstein, B.Sc. Reg Physiotherapist
Sonya Jakubec, R.N., Ph.D.
Peter Johnson, M.D.
Norman Kalant, M.D. Ph.D. Prof of Health Policy
Marylin Kanee, M.S.W.
Gilda Katz, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Rabia Khan, M.D.
Mira Khazzam, M.A.
Haresh Kirpalani, M.D. (part-time pofessor of clinical epidemiology, McMaster U.)
Fatima Lachporia, R.N.
Peggy Lathwell, M.D.
Mark Leith, M.D.
Joel Lexchin, M.D.
Abby Lippman, Ph.D.
Bruce Lofquist, M.A. (International Institute of Concern for Public Health)
Eman Loubani, M.D., pediatric resident
Tarek Loubani, Dalhousie 4th year medical student
Lise Loubert, M.D.
Roy Male, M.D.
Afaf Mangat, R.N.
Farah Naaz Manji, 2nd year medical student
Silvia Matthew, M.S.W. R.S.W.
Gwyn McIntosh, R.N.
Rosemary Meier, M.B.Ch.B., M.Sc., F.R.C.P. (C) Asst prof of Psychiatry and Public Health Sciences
John Menzies, M.D., F.R.C.P.
Lois Milne, O.D.
Anna Miranksy, M.A.
Dieter Misgeld, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, U of T
Lisa Mu, M.D.
Farah Naaz Manji, Medical student Schulich School of Medicine
Will Offley, R.N.
Nancy Olivieri, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C)
Rosana Pellizzari, M.D.
Michael Pflug, M.D.
Jane Pritchard, M.D.
Diana Ralph, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Marjorie Robertson, B.Sc., M.Ed., Retired professor of nursing
Gail Robson, R.N., (UNDP)
Sandra Rose, M.S.W., R.S.W.
Solomon Rosenbaum, M.D.
Najib Safieddine, M.D.
Joanna Santa Barabara, M.B., B.S. F.R.C.P. (C), Ontario
Fred Schloessinger, M.D.
Rachelle Sender, M.D.
Elena Starr, family counsellor
Wahida Valiante, M.S.W.
Cheryl Wagner, M.D.
Scott Weinstein, R.N.
H.S. Williams, M.D.
Tanya Zakrison, M.D.

 

Contact:

Reem Abdul-Qadir M.S.W. R.S.W.
Judith Deutsch M.S.W. R.S.W.
Miriam Garfinkle M.D

for the Canadian Health Professionals to End the Seige in Gaza

Contact Judith Deutsch or Dr. Miriam Garfinkle or Reem Abdul-Qadir

 


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