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Asylum seekers have 60 days to leave for an ‘unnamed African destination,’ or face indefinite incarceration in Israel

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Welcome to the seventh edition of the monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact [email protected]. Please feel free to share the newsletter with your colleagues and communities and encourage them to join the JVP Health Advisory Council. Thanks to all who have contributed!

The Abject Misery of Standing in Line to Apply for Asylum in Israel
Haaretz 2 Feb  The process of applying for asylum in Israel is extremely arduous and very rarely successful. The Israeli government continues its racist plans to deport Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. Israel says the migrants have 60 days to accept the offer to leave the country for an unnamed African destination in exchange for $3,500 and a plane ticket. Those who don’t by April 1 will be incarcerated indefinitely. Activists protest globally and an Ethiopian Israeli Jew speaks out from personal experience. Read more here from Haaretz +972 Magazine, and the U.S. News and World Report.

The Deportation of Asylum Seekers as an Ethical Challenge for the Medical Profession
Physicians for Human Rights Israel Feb 2018 — Physicians for Human Rights-Israel issued a statement explaining that the deportation of refugees is an ethical and moral challenge for the medical profession which requires a position of opposition to the practice.

(I would not worry about the safety of the site, I find these warnings frequently for progressive sites dealing with I/P and see this as a form of intimidation. Let us know if you disagree. AR)

Youngest children held by Israel jailed for months
Electronic Intifada 29 Jan — 350 Palestinian children languish in Israeli jails, including two 13 year olds recently given prison sentences, other children of activists, and older Palestinians suffering from medical neglect.

High-profile actors, artists, athletes, and activists join Dream Defenders in supporting Ahed Tamimi
Mondoweiss 12 Feb — High-profile actors, artists, athletes, and activists join Dream Defenders in supporting Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old girl from Nabi Saleh, arrested for slapping a soldier who had invaded her yard, shortly after her 15-year-old cousin was shot in the face.

More Palestinians are dying waiting to get medical treatment because Israel won’t give them travel permits
Newsweek 15 Feb — As widely reported, the ongoing health care crisis in Gaza persists. Despite the supposed reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, hospitals and clinics are closing due to lack of fuel for generators. The supply of 40 percent  of essential medicines has run out. Overall, there is less than one month’s supply of 45 percent of the medications on the Gaza formulary. Sixty-two percent of cancer drugs are out of stock as are 54 percent of primary healthcare drugs and 61 percent of immunology drugs.

A shortage of lab supplies means no lab tests are available for outpatients. Emergency fuel supplies will be exhausted. The World Health Organization warns that 1,715 patients will be in immediate life-threatening situations if hospitals run out of fuel. Scanners at major hospitals are out of service due to the difficulty of obtaining Israeli permission to deliver spare parts.

Cancer patients and others needing treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals face multiple barriers: obtaining approval from the Gaza Ministry of Health and the West Bank health ministry, obtaining permits from the Israeli military to cross Erez checkpoint, Augusta Victoria Hospital’s refusal to accept new patients due to PA’s failure to pay off debt.

At least 54 Gazans have died due to rejection of permits for medical care. The difficulty in maintaining a modicum of health care services in Gaza and the West Bank is illustrated by the Israeli Ministry of Defense denial of dental supplies bound for Gaza. This material, amalgam capsules for making dental filings, was forfeited because it was not presented with an application for a permit, even though up to that time there had been no requirement of a permit for this type of material.
The Israeli government blames the catastrophic situation on Hamas and the PA, and calls for major infrastructure rebuilding plan paid for by international donors. More information from Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Haaretz, Al Haq, Electronic Intifada, MondoweissTimes of Israel+972 MagazineElectronic IntifadaMedical Aid for Palestinians, and a second report from Medical Aid for Palestinians, Al JazeeraGisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, and Haaretz.

Israeli forces kill two teenagers on Gaza Strip border
Defense of Children International-Palestine 23 Feb — Israeli soldiers opened fire at four children who approached the border near Al-Shouka southeast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 17, killing Abdullah Ermilat, 14,  and Salem Sabah, 16. Ahmad H., 15, and Salim S., 17, were injured by artillery shell shrapnel, according to evidence collected by Defense for Children International – Palestine.

Gisha files High Court petition for a response to an application for travel abroad for post-graduate studies
Gisha  Access to advanced training for professionals, including medical professionals is severely hampered by Israel’s refusal to grant exit permits in a timely manner to students who have been accepted into academic programs abroad. An engineering student nearly lost his full scholarship because of unnecessary delays in the processing of his application and he was only allowed to travel at the last minute after court decisions in his favor. Up to the minute medicine is not possible in the West Bank and Gaza unless medical personnel have free access to advanced training and conferences abroad.

Arab mothers, infants unable to access health care after Israeli Supreme Court rejects Adalah petition
Adalah 25 Feb  Israeli Supreme Court backs Health Ministry move to shutter mother-infant clinic, leaving residents from two Haifa-area villages without access to pre- and postnatal care.

Hagai El-Ad talks war crimes, forced displacement, and int’l pressure
+972 Magazine 6 Feb — B’Tselem called the demolition and displacement of Palestinian villages ‘war crimes,’ and stressed the role of international pressure in changing Israeli policy in the West Bank. This change in language occurred in response to the heightened threats to the villages of Khan al-Ahmer and Susya. This is of particular importance because the International Criminal Court prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination into Israel’s actions in the occupied territories, specifically including its settlements and forcible population transfer among other alleged crimes.

Israel undergoes Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record
Medical Aid for Palestinians 26 Jan — Israel underwent the third Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. During the interactive dialogue, states had the opportunity to raise issues of concern and make recommendations for action to ensure that the State of Israel promotes and protects human rights both inside its borders and in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Palestinian mental health professionals in Israel say international conference should not be held in Tel Aviv
Mondoweiss 16 Feb— Palestinian mental health professionals who are citizens of Israel and Israeli members of Psychoactive protest holding international mental health conference in Israel in 2019. More information from UK Palestine Mental Health Network.

Alice Rothchild

Alice Rothchild is a physician, author, and filmmaker who has focused her interest in human rights and social justice on the Israel/Palestine conflict since 1997. She practiced ob-gyn for almost 40 years. Until her retirement she served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Harvard Medical School. She writes and lectures widely, is the author of Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion, and Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine. She directed a documentary film, Voices Across the Divide and is active in Jewish Voice for Peace. Follow her at @alicerothchild

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2 Responses

  1. amigo on March 2, 2018, 3:08 pm

    Zionists will point to the Nazis who gave Jews no notice , so Israel is a kinder , gentler ethnic cleanser.

  2. JLewisDickerson on March 5, 2018, 3:21 am

    “To Leave Gaza, Israel Asks Palestinian Minors to Commit They Not Return for a Year”
    • Israel imposes harsher restrictions on Gazan kids leaving the Strip for abroad, demanding they sign an agreement to stay away
    By Amira Hass | Feb 24, 2018

    On January 24, 17-year-old Hadil and her three younger siblings arrived at the Erez Checkpoint between Israel and the Gaza Strip. A day earlier, they’d received an Israeli permit to leave Gaza through Israel via the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. Since Israel didn’t let their oldest brother accompany them on the trip to see their father, who lives in Sweden, Hadil got the job of being the responsible adult.

    At Erez, a representative of Israel’s Coordination and Liaison Office asked all four to sign a commitment not to return to Gaza during the next year, adding that they wouldn’t be allowed to leave if they didn’t sign. Having no choice, Hadil signed for all of them.

    Hadil never dreamed that her signature on this commitment would result in the Liaison Office issuing more stringent instructions to its Palestinian counterpart, the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, and in the latter defying the new rules.

    This case sheds light on a general problem relating to the status of the Civil Affairs Committee, whose job is to receive Palestinian applications to leave Gaza and transfer them to Israel for approval or rejection. The question that arises here, and not for the first time, is where the border lies between necessary cooperation on civilian issues that affect Palestinians’ lives, and collaboration by Palestinian Authority officials with Israeli bureaucrats who sabotage Palestinians’ basic rights.

    Making minors sign such a far-reaching commitment is illegal, according to Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, whose intervention secured exit permits for Hadil and her siblings. Gisha attorney Osnat Cohen-Lifshitz wrote as much to Capt. Nadav Glass, legal advisor to the Liaison Office’s Gaza branch.

    “This isn’t the first time Liaison Office representatives have made minors sign commitments whose legality is dubious even when adults are forced to sign them,” she wrote. “This is all the more true when minors on their own are forced to sign a form without their parents’ consent and signature.”

    On February 7, Glass responded that the minors’ signatures were invalid. From now on, he wrote, the office would make sure commitments not to return to Gaza for a year were signed by a minor’s parent or guardian.

    “To ensure proper conduct on this issue in particular, and on signing commitments in general, we’ve decided to insist that requests by Gaza Strip residents, adults and minors alike, to enter Israel in order to travel abroad for prolonged stays be passed on by the Civil Affairs Committee with a legally signed commitment form already attached,” he added. “If requests are submitted without the requisite signed form, they will be rejected. A statement to this effect has been sent to the Civil Affairs Committee.”

    Since 1997, Israel has forbidden Gazans to travel abroad via the Allenby Bridge without a special permit, given stingily. This new rule was one of many Israeli restrictions on movement that became more stringent after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and gradually disconnected Gaza from the West Bank.

    As long as the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open more or less regularly, as it was in 1997, this restriction was tolerable. But today, Rafah is open only a few days a year.

    Also in 2007, Israel instituted a sweeping ban on Palestinians leaving Gaza through the Erez Checkpoint, except in stringently defined humanitarian cases (sickness, death, weddings of first-degree relatives). Over time, this restriction was loosened a bit, but even today, only a few thousand of Gaza’s two million people are allowed to leave via Erez.

    In February 2016, Israel decided to let Gazans travel abroad via Allenby, but only if they promised not to return for a year. This condition didn’t bother the people for whom the change was meant – Palestinians living overseas who got “stuck” in Gaza while visiting, or who planned lengthy stays overseas for school or work.

    A Palestinian source said the Civil Affairs Committee and the Israeli authorities devised this arrangement between them. People traveling due to illness or family events and academics going on short trips were supposed to be exempt from the one-year commitment.

    Nevertheless, the committee never insisted that people applying for exit permits sign the one-year commitment. Therefore, they were asked to sign it at Erez or Allenby instead. Anyone who refused had to turn around and go home

    Following the case of Hadil and her siblings, the committee told Gisha the Israeli Liaison Office had started demanding that a signed commitment be included in every exit request. The office refuses to process requests that arrive without the signed form, but the Civil Affairs Committee still refuses to ask people to sign it.

    The Liaison Office has also recently ordered the committee to label more exit applications as being for a “prolonged stay” overseas, even in humanitarian cases like attending a wedding or visiting the sick. Effectively, under the latest instructions received by the committee, anyone traveling abroad must sign a commitment not to return to Gaza for a year.

    A month ago, for instance, Gisha petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of a young woman, her father and her aunt, who wanted to go to Jordan for her wedding. The Liaison Office told Gisha that all three of their requests would be labeled “prolonged stay,” requiring them to sign the one-year commitment not to return.

    The court ordered the office to reconsider, and government attorneys said they wouldn’t insist on the bride’s signature. But when the three of them arrived at Erez, the bride was required to sign the commitment. Only Gisha’s intervention led to it being canceled.

    Data Gisha obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories reveal large gaps between the number of Gazans who request exit permits via Allenby and the number approved, and also between that and the number actually used. In August 2017, for instance, 475 requests were submitted, 169 were approved and 39 were rejected. But only 96 people actually left, including 28 minors.

    COGAT didn’t say whether this gap was due to a refusal to sign the commitment at Erez. It also declined to say how many Gazans sought to return to Gaza before the year-long commitment expired or to specify the “humanitarian reasons” that enable someone who signed the commitment to ask to return home early.

    Asked to explain the logic behind the commitment not to return, a COGAT spokesperson said, “In 2016, a decision was made to help residents of the Gaza Strip who didn’t meet the existing criteria for going abroad (patients, students and academics). As part of this decision, a criterion was added for Gaza residents going abroad via Israel. To implement this decision, they must sign off that this is a prolonged stay of over a year abroad. The procedures for signing this commitment haven’t changed since the above criterion was added. Nevertheless, to regulate and streamline the process, it was recently decided that the signed forms should be transferred well in advance.”

    Gisha said the criteria, “which Israel invented and changes when it sees fit,” are rigid, and the demand that people promise not to return for a year is immoral, illegal and inhumane.

    The Civil Affairs Committee, as the PA’s representative, is so far sticking to its refusal to send requests for exit permits to the Liaison Office with a signed commitment not to go home for a year. This principled stance means requests for exit permits aren’t being processed, so people can’t go abroad. But it’s quite likely the immediate human need to travel will overcome this principled national stance, as has happened more than once in relations between the PA and Israel.

    SOURCE –

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