Health Professionals Join the International Call to End The
Humanitarian Disaster in Gaza
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
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.
demands that the Canadian government restore funds to Gaza, insist
on respect for international law and support the international appeals
to lift the siege.
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 Gazas traumatized families and has
persistently advocated for human
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.
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 lifes 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 Gazas 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
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 Canadas 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,
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
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.
Judith Deutsch M.S.W. R.S.W.
Miriam Garfinkle M.D
for the Canadian Health Professionals to End the Seige in
Deutsch or Dr. Miriam Garfinkle or Reem Abdul-Qadir