Unless the international community takes urgent and decisive action to uphold international law, Palestinians will be forced to endure another 50 years of occupation, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) has today warned.
This warning comes as Palestinians mark the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza which began in 1967. This occupation severely undermines Palestinians’ physical and mental health through pervasive insecurity and frequent violations of basic rights and freedoms.
Aimee Shalan, MAP CEO, said: “The occupation is a major driver of the desperate humanitarian needs MAP is addressing in the West Bank and Gaza. The marking of half a century of occupation today demonstrates the devastating failure of the international community to take decisive action to uphold Palestinians’ rights to health and dignity. We hope for a future where MAP’s work is no longer necessary. Until there is international action to bring the occupation to an end, however, these needs will only increase.”
Israel’s expanding physical and bureaucratic barriers to Palestinians’ free movement – including a stifling permit regime and a network of walls and checkpoints – prevent many patients from accessing vital care and endanger lives.
Military offensives in Gaza have killed thousands of Palestinians, mostly civilians, and caused crippling damage to hospitals and clinics, while a decade of blockade and closure and the resultant economic devastation have stifled efforts to rebuild and develop health and humanitarian infrastructure. Gaza is currently facing a humanitarian crisis.
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers and home demolitions further threaten lives and livelihoods, and Israel forbids the building of permanent health facilities to serve hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Area C.
Neil Sammonds, MAP’s Director of Advocacy, said: “Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in the West Bank and Gaza have been widespread and continue with near-total impunity. This not only endangers the wellbeing of Palestinians and entrenches injustice, it perpetuates a consequence-free occupation.”
“It is not enough for governments to pay lip-service to human rights. Without effective accountability, further attacks on Palestinian civilians, health facilities and personnel are likely and the occupation will devastate many more lives.”
Health and dignity are not gifts to be earned; they are basic rights. MAP continues to call on governments to engage in all international efforts to promote effective, impartial investigations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and hold perpetrators to account where violations are identified. MAP also urges the international community to take effective action to end the policies of blockade and separation that are so detrimental to a unified Palestinian healthcare system.
Doing so will not only help protect the health and dignity of Palestinians, but help ensure that Palestinians do not have to endure another 50 years under occupation.