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Medical heroes arrive in Gaza, no fanfare, no NBC

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Little Wings Foundation

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and Little Wings Foundation medical team arrives in Gaza Nov.15, 2013

Last night as I was tracking Mohammed Assaf’s travels across America I intercepted the Facebook page for The Palestine’s Children Relief Fund – Detroit Chapter where Assaf made a stopover for a meet and greet.

On top of the page was the photo above featuring a medical team, a mission by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) along with The Little Wings Foundation, who arrived in Gaza yesterday. The accompanying text:

Today, a six member team of pediatric orthopedic surgeons from The Little Wings Foundation crossed into Gaza on their second mission there in the last three years. Led by surgeon Dr. Marc Sinclair surgeon, the team included Michigan-based anesthesiologist Dr. Samir Abdo, nurses
Gillian Beale, Kate McAvoy, and Ruth Kellow, as well as coordinator Seonaid Biagioni. Also crossing Erez today after several weeks volunteering in Rafidiah Hospital in Nablus is general surgeon Dr. Steven H. Untracht, who has been on several past PCRF missions to Palestine as well.

— with Steven H. Untracht.


PCRF’s team coordinates and conducts emergency volunteer medical missions to Palestine and Lebanon’s refugee camps and beyond. This year alone they have sponsored and managed over 60 volunteer surgery missions to Palestine, including nearly 30 to Gaza, serving the needs of children living under occupation.

The Little Wing Foundation carries out pro bono surgeries for children living in the Middle East and North Africa who have musculoskeletal deformities. Their Facebook page has not been updated since November 2012 when they informed readers the Israeli government had returned their medical supplies for a fee of $1,500. The supplies had been confiscated earlier by Israeli authorities in Ramallah.

P.S. Dr. Nancy Snyderman from NBC was not there to report their arrival yesterday. They literally arrived “quietly, with no fanfare“.

 (Check out all of PCRF’s programs here, get involved and help)

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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34 Responses

  1. November 16, 2013, 1:52 pm

    before i got down to your little piece on snyderman that’s exactly what i was thinking of, where is she?
    i think i’ll try myself to call up nbc

  2. just
    November 16, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Many, many thanks for this Annie!

    Blessings to The Little Wings Foundation. Blessings to MSF, and the countless others that labor “in the dark” to bring compassionate help, relief, and health to those under Occupation, war and disasters.

    No fanfare, no hooplah– just real humanitarians.

    ” …November 2012 when they informed readers the Israeli government had returned their medical supplies for a fee of $1,500. The supplies had been confiscated earlier by Israeli authorities in Ramallah.”

    So they stole their medical supplies and held them for ransom??? What an odious upstart of a country. I guess I should be glad that they were not murdered or physically abused and detained like other humanitarians have been…

    (btw– I missed it if you wrote about seeing/hearing M. Assaf in concert. Were you able to make it?)

  3. Cliff
    November 16, 2013, 2:16 pm

    These are the humble ones.

    The IDF colonists and their orchestrated photo op halfway around the world are the fakes.

  4. Blownaway
    November 16, 2013, 2:27 pm

    Let’s see Dr Nancy Snyderman was not there? That’s dog bites man

  5. unverified__46945070
    November 16, 2013, 2:58 pm

    Actually, this mission is by the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund with Little Wings Foundation. We, the PCRF, have sent over 60 volunteer surgery missions to Palestine this year, including nearly 30 to Gaza. No NBC, no CNN and we don’t care. We are there to serve the needs of children living under occupation. We would appreciate it if you would acknowledge correctly that the PCRF is the organization with the team on the ground managing these missions and sponsoring them. Check us out and help:

    • annie
      November 16, 2013, 3:02 pm

      thanks, sorry the report wasn’t accurate. will fix. and thanks so much for everything.

      • unverified__46945070
        November 16, 2013, 4:02 pm

        Thanks, Annie. We also have several injured kids in the USA being treated for free, including two refugee children from Gaza in Ohio. Can’t get the Plain Dealer there to show any interest on covering their free care, for some reason.

      • annie
        November 16, 2013, 4:17 pm

        yes i was just checking out your ‘treatment abroad’ link (see the “and beyond” embed above). how weird your local paper would ignore something like this.

        i have to tell you last night when came upon the detroit chapter’s FB page, i choked when i saw that photo and those people standing there. i thought of all the kids trying to make it to school thru the sewer in gaza i’d seen earlier in the day on a video. i couldn’t help it, i started crying and opening all the was such a short excerpt.

        anyway, this morning when i woke up and read phil’s story it just, it just…. i was reminded of your mission i’d read about the night before.

        anyway, i’m sorry i didn’t know, didn’t know from the brief description at the FB page this was your doing and i don’t recall ever seeing your website until today. maybe i have and forgot. checking out the child sponsorships. it’s pretty incredible what you do. think i’ll do something myself.

    • just
      November 16, 2013, 3:05 pm

      Many thanks to you and PCRF, unverified.

  6. frankier
    November 16, 2013, 4:23 pm

    Meanwhile a few days ago, on NPR “Here and Now”, Robin Young (I believe) could not wait to say that Israel sent a field hospital to the Philippines.

    There was not context whatsoever to mention that as they were talking about the US Navy air carrier that had just arrived in the Philippines to provide support for the help being delivered. She just inserted the comment that Israel had sent already, i.e., even before the US. Incidentally, if we accept that money is fungible, Israeli relief missions are paid for with US taxpayers money.

    Same goes for the Haiti hearthquake. NPR “advertised” so much that Israel was among the first to send humanitarian and medical support to Haiti.

    It is great, in both cases, that Israel is present in far away places to provide relief in disaster areas, but what about in their backyard? What about Gaza, where Israel has actually control of the causes that trigger the need for relief.

    Hasbara operations…. that’s what they Israeli relief missions are.

    • just
      November 16, 2013, 4:47 pm

      frankier– agreed.

      NPR– I often wonder which ‘nation’ they represent. A dirty shame.

  7. dimadok
    November 16, 2013, 9:47 pm

    Would y’all calm down a bit, would you? Every day dozens of Gaza residents go to Israel for medical treatments. Philippines is another extraordinary story. Either way Israel helping both near and far. You all get so agitated about the IDF mission in Philippines and keep looking sillier with every passing moment.
    Many people from Syria, Gaza and everywhere else in the world are grateful for IDF and Israel for their help. And you all may have another spasm of hate if you will.
    Good day.

    • unverified__46945070
      November 17, 2013, 12:53 am

      It is true that Gazans do go to Israel for medical care, but not for free and often at great difficulty and suffering to them and their parents. To suggest that people in the Gaza Strip are “grateful for the IDF” is to live in some fantasy world. I live and work here, so I know perfectly well what is going on in Gaza. I deal with medical cases there all the time. It’s a land under siege and occupation.

      • Walid
        November 17, 2013, 1:46 am

        “It is true that Gazans do go to Israel for medical care, but not for free and often at great difficulty and suffering to them and their parents. ” (unverified)

        There are also those that are allowed into Israel for medical treatment in exchange for becoming collaborators and spies. That’s one of the lowest of lows by Israel’s IDF, the “most moral army in the world”.

  8. just
    November 16, 2013, 10:52 pm

    “Every day dozens of Gaza residents go to Israel for medical treatments.”
    Citation please, and do include how they get through the “checkpoints”. Thanks in advance.

    I’ll await your cogent and truthful reply. Remind me how I might be terribly wrong, and that you and yours are so humanitarian.

    • Djinn
      November 17, 2013, 12:16 am

      It’s true that Gazans do travel to Israel for medical treatment however it is most certainly not dozens daily. There are huge restrictions on who can travel and who can accompany them. Almost all of these treatments could be easily performed in Gaza were it not for the blockade. The number of doctors per capita in Gaza is very high but without being able to import diagnostic and other tools and medications particularly cancer medications there are limits to treatment within Gaza.

    • Walid
      November 17, 2013, 1:36 am

      Just, there is no denying that most of the humanitarian stories we get about Israel jumping in to help such as those in the earthquakes of Haiti and Turkey along with the sniffing dogs are pure Israeli PR bullshit. No sooner than the news cameras stop rolling for the 7 o’clock news, the Israeli rescue teams pack up and return back to base. These are the ones that Dimadok is pushing here, since you can easily smell it because of its IDF implication.

      On the other hand, there are Israeli doctors that are sincerely helping Palestinians without any fanfare, tv coverage or the usual Israeli government BS. It’s the “Physicians for Human Rights-Israel” that’s been around for 25 years going into the West Bank weekly (and into Gaza occasionally) to attend to Palestinians’ medical needs for free and more often than not, the doctors pay for the needed medecine out of their own pockets. So yes, there are the bullshitters that brag about Israelis helping sick Palestinians, but there are also real heroes actually doing it. It would be unjust to not recognize them. Here’s a small message from March this year that describes them:

      “Dear PHR- Israel Friends and Supporters,

      In 1988, at the start of the First Intifada, I recruited a group of fellow Israeli and Palestinian physicians deeply concerned about Israel’s human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.

      We decided to band together to protect the health and human rights of Palestinians living under occupation, and on March 17, 1988 – 25 years ago to the day – we founded Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR- I), one of the first human rights organizations in Israel.

      A quarter century later, I am proud to say that PHR- Israel has blossomed into one of Israel’s leading human rights organization, and the only organization in Israel dedicated exclusively to protecting the right to health. Today, as we mark our 25th anniversary, PHR- Israel is a vibrant community comprised of over 2,900 physicians, nurses, medical students, and para-medical professionals passionately committed to protecting human rights through the ethical practice of medicine.
      Over the past 25 years, PHR-Israel’s dedicated members and volunteers have worked nonstop to defend human rights, express solidarity with society’s most vulnerable members, and oppose Israel’s ongoing military occupation. Each week, they join our Mobile Clinic, traveling throughout the West Bank to provide medical care to Palestinians living in rural areas. They volunteer their time and expertise both in our Open Clinic and in their own private clinics to administer medical care to asylum seekers and other undocumented individuals. PHR- Israel member physicians provide expert opinions that document torture of prisoners and detainees, open the gates for Palestinians barred from accessing medical care in Israel, prevent the deportation of ailing asylum seekers, and rally to reverse the creeping inequalities within Israel’s health system.

      As Passover – the festival of freedom – approaches,please consider a donation to PHR-Israel in honor of our 25th anniversary. For information on how to donate via the New Israel Fund, check, or bank transfer, please visit our website.

      Supporters like you have made these past 25 years possible, and our members and volunteers need your help to keep moving forward in the years to come.

      With best wishes for a happy holiday,

      Dr. Ruchama Marton
      Founder and President, PHR-Israel

      And here’s another:

      • ziusudra
        November 17, 2013, 10:54 am

        Greetings Walid,
        Mahaba Salam.
        I was quite moved to view a report here in Germany of retired Israeli Soldiers who volutarily stand by Falesteeni in the WB & try to bargain with the Soldiers & Settlers of not destroying Falesteeni agricultural products. Unforntunately they were also attacked by the Settlers as Jew hating Nazis.
        There are also Israeli Women who voluntarily stand at the Checkpoints helping the Falesteeni sick to be processed quickly & w/o harassment. They are also attacked.
        Mash’Salam, shucran.

      • Walid
        November 18, 2013, 12:38 pm

        Yes Ziusudra, great group of Israeli ladies at Machsom Watch. For those that don’t know about them:

      • dimadok
        November 17, 2013, 11:45 am

        Do you just assume the no one from 2500 of these fantastic people had or does serve in active/reservist duty in IDF?
        The world is not black or white my friend.

      • Walid
        November 17, 2013, 1:43 pm

        dimadok, since practically everyone in Israel is in active or reservist duty at some time during their life, it stands to reason that there would be some of those among the 2900 mentioned in the appeal. It’s as a collectivity that I’m critical of Israel’s IDF as I’m sure there are decent people that are or have gone through its ranks and I’m criticizing the IDF as a unit when I say the international rescue operations it conducts with the sniffing dogs is PR BS. “Breaking the Silence” is another example of IDF/Israelis exceptions.

        You’re the black and white guy that assumes that all IDF people are the good guys. Mostly, they are not.

      • dimadok
        November 17, 2013, 4:20 pm

        @Walid. IDF is not run by individuals, it’s a military organization. There are orders and procedures. Therefore, if follow your logic, any act of good will and humanitarian actions should be assumed to the IDF as a whole. Therefore IDF does pretty good job in humanitarian missions as well and you should give it credit it deserves.

      • Walid
        November 18, 2013, 11:13 am

        dimadok, even if I’d agree to what you are advancing, the good deeds you are talking about are by very very far outweighed by the bad ones that the IDF commit. Same goes for Israel that surely has good people in it, but there again, the bad people outnumber the good ones so as a whole, I have to consider that in general, it’s a bad country.

    • dimadok
      November 17, 2013, 11:35 am

      And I thought that no one will ask.
      There you go: Patients and Accompanying Persons
      November 3rd to November 9th , 2013- 235
      October 27th to November 2nd , 2013 -358

      And the list goes on.

  9. Sammar
    November 17, 2013, 12:40 am

    I guess the people who do get help by the glory-seekers are still happy that they happen to be there and don’t care what their real motives are.

    This said:

    “Every day dozens of Gaza residents go to Israel for medical treatments.”

    Not really. There is the occasional case where a patient is allowed into Israel for medical treatment – after all, hasbara has to keep up the illusion of a “humanitarian state”. And let’s not forget that most cases that make it to Israel for medical treatment are maimed or ill because of Israeli actions in the first place. The same goes for the few Syrians who have allegedly been treated in Israeli hospitals – great publicity stunt while fueling the civil war and calling for (US) airstrikes on the Syria that would doubtlessly kill many Syrians.

    Real humanitarian help comes from people who care about those they want to help and do so quietly, not those who just want to get into the newspapers or be hailed as heroes on TV.

    • jon s
      jon s
      November 21, 2013, 7:38 am
      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        November 21, 2013, 8:15 am

        One must wonder whether this child would have gotten this serious infection if the iraelis weren’t illegally blockading the Gazan people, and destroying infrastructure which has the effect (intended? who can tell?) of increasing the incidence of infectious disease among them.

      • American
        November 21, 2013, 9:21 am

        Woody Tanaka says:
        November 21, 2013 at 8:15 am

        One must wonder whether this child would have gotten this serious infection if the iraelis weren’t illegally blockading the Gazan people, and destroying infrastructure which has the effect (intended? who can tell?) of increasing the incidence of infectious disease among them.>>>>>

        Wonder no more. The world health organizations and aid agencies have battled for years the effects of the undrinkable water and unsanitary conditions resulting from Israel’s closure and assaults on Gaza. Israel keeps Gaza like a cess pool. It infects children particulary and even animals, so people can be infected from animals around them.
        I will give Israel no credit for the ‘ocasional’ Palestine they treat while they steal the water, dump Isr waste water on them and spray their houses with sunk juice excrement.

        Campaign fights infectious diseases in the wake of Gaza’s long crisis

        Prevalence of Intestinal Parasitic and Bacterial Pathogens in … › … › J Health Popul Nutr › v.27(6); Dec 2009‎
        by A Samie – ‎2009 – ‎Cited by 25 – ‎Related articles
        Gastrointestinal infections are major causes of morbidity and mortality … coli are well-known as causes of gastrointestinal diseases all over the world. …. as major cause of acute diarrhoea in Palestinian children aged less than five years

        Antimicrobial Resistance of Enteric Pathogens Isolated from Acute … › Home › Vol 2, No 4 (2012) › Elmanama‎
        by AA Elmanama – ‎2013 – ‎Related articlesBackground: Acute gastroenteritis is a severe infection of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). … because it threats the life and worsens the acute gastroenteritis disease. … from community-acquired urinary tract infections in the Gaza strip, Palestine.
        leading causes of death in Palestine by age and sex. … infants from gastrointestinal diseases and diarrhea
        A recent UNRWA report states that the most common infectious diseases affecting Palestinian refugees in Gaza — who make up more than three-quarters of the population — are directly related to inadequate supplies of safe water and poor sanitation: diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea and viral hepatitis.
        Water is life, but here in Gaza it can also bring death. Numerous military attacks on the Gaza Strip have devastated Gaza’s water infrastructure. Israel’s twenty-two day assault last winter destroyed or rendered unusable an estimated 800 of Gaza’s 2,000 wells, and caused $5.97 million in damage to our water and wastewater treatment facilities. Since January 2009, the Gaza Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have issued drinking, seafood and swimming advisories.

    • yrn
      November 21, 2013, 8:13 am

      BTW The son of Mr. Haniya published this issue in his facebook, it has no respond from any official Israeli resource, so your bull regarding Hasbra is stupid.
      A person like Mr. Haniya could have send his granddaughter to any hospital in the ME in order for his muslim brothers to take care of her, but they decided to send her to Israel ????
      and ofcourse not to mention the the husband of Sohila Mr. Haniya’ daughter got treatment also in an Israeli hospital , did you hear much PR about it.

      • American
        November 21, 2013, 9:06 am

        Well the Israeli treatments dont seem to work on Palestines. Maybe all Israel gives Palestines for infections is chicken soup. Gastrointestinal infections are curable if they are treated in time.

        Palestinian prisoner dies in Tel Aviv hospital | JPost | Israel News…/Palestinian-prisoner-dies-in-Tel-Aviv-hospital-309405‎
        Apr 10, 2013 – A Palestinian prisoner from east Jerusalem died after an infectious disease in Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon, the ..

  10. Eva Smagacz
    Eva Smagacz
    November 17, 2013, 7:52 am

    All medical treatments of Palestinians in Occupied Palestinian territories and Gaza are paid for by current Palestinian Government or NGOs. Not so long ago there was a story of a small girl Lin Hassan who was refused chemotherapy to treat cancer of the kidney by an Israeli hospital Kaplan. Hospital refused the treatment as Palestinian Government did not pay for her previous round of treatment. But the money belonging to Palestinian Authority was sequestrated by Israel as a punishment for Palestine approaching United Nations.

    So no hard cash – no treatment.

    Position of Palestinians in East Jerusalem is more complicated, with patchwork of cover and non cover.

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