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Israel Bombs Health Service in Gaza

Wed, Jan 7, 2009

General, War, Palestine

Israel Bombs Health Service in Gaza

by Patricia Campbell

I felt great sadness when I learned the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) building was destroyed by Israeli bomber jets on December 31.

The four-story building overlooks the Mediterranean Sea in the northern part of Gaza City. With 150 employees, the Programme is supported by international donors and was fast becoming a centre of excellence in providing psychological therapies and treatment of trauma-related illnesses.

In June, 2007, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza, allowing no one in or out of the area without its permission.

Last October, I was part of an international delegation to Gaza. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the GCMHP had organized a conference, “Siege and Mental Health – Walls vs Bridges.” Mental health practitioners, doctors and academics from all over the world attended to share their expertise on how a siege can affect mental health.

Working as a Community Psychiatric Nurse in Belfast, I was scheduled to present a paper showing how 30 years of war in Northern Ireland has damaged the minds of individuals who now suffer major mental illness.

Conference participants were denied access to Gaza, despite our protest at the Erez border. To get around this problem, the conference was conducted by video link between Ramallah City in the West Bank and participants in Gaza.

After the conference, I maintained contact with GCMHP staff. I looked forward to a continuing exchange of ideas and learning from one another. I was highly impressed with their innovative and progressive service delivery, their empowerment programmes, their attention to mental health and staff training needs. I had high hopes that we in Belfast could follow by example.

The loss of the GCMHP is especially acute as the death toll rises in Gaza and hundreds of thousands of people are severely traumatized.

After viewing the destroyed building, Dr Ahmad Abu Tawahina, the Director General of the GCMHP, announced that the GCMHP was suspending its services indefinitely because “every metre traveled is a risk, as Israeli air strikes continue over Gaza.”

Israel targets medical personnel

On 31 December, medical crews attempting to treat a wounded victim from Jabal Kashif in northeast Gaza were hit by helicopter fire. Dr. Ihab Madhun, medic Muhammad Abu Hasireh and the injured victim were all killed.

On January 3,  after the home of the Dabbabish family in Sheikh Radwan was bombed, a medical crew entered to evacuate the wounded.  The house was bombed again, and medic  Ayyad Ahmad was critically wounded.

On January 4, an ambulance belonging to the Al Awda Hospital in Beit Lahiya was hit by helicopter fire. Arfa Abd al Daim, a senior volunteer medic was killed and two other medical personnel were critically injured.

On January 4, a tank fired on an ambulance attempting to evacuate a family in Tel Alhawa. Inass Fadil Naim, Yassir Shabir and Rifaat Abdel Al were all killed.

Our first priority must be to stop Israel’s barbaric war. Our second priority is to rebuild the GCMHP and other medical services in Gaza.

TAKE ACTION!

Demand that your government press for an immediate stop to the Israeli bombing.

Join a protest at the Israeli or American consulate nearest you.

Patricia Campbell works as a community psychiatric nurse in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is also president of the Independent Workers Union of Ireland and a founder of the UNIVERSI health workers’ union.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Lyle Courtsal Says:

    Israel, or at least the rightwing of their society, is proving their criminality and unworthiness to lead by repeatedly committing war crimes on defenseless civilian peoples. When they come along with well funded rightwing rabbis teaching that it is OK to commit mass murder in violation of their own teachings, you have serious problems with a people and a state. I noticed how it was that there were mostly men in the meetings where these serious murdering heresies were taught.
    When a rabbi threatens to loose a plague on a starving, defenseless people, when a military uses white phosphorus on a defenseless starving civilian people after bombing vital life supporting infrastructure a’ la Iraq under the blockade, this needs to be classified and remembered as a crime against humanity, even the criminal attackers own humanity. The man who ran Rachel Corrie over with a D-9 cat had been driving 72 hours and was drunk. Was it to blot out what was left of his conscience? Probably. Did he ever suffer any consequences? I don’t know. I hope so. That every day he sees what he has done in his minds eye, until he repents and atones to God’s satisfaction. A man I know who was in WW II still drinks until he’s blotto drunk to this day, because what he saw and experienced was so horrific.
    Will the Israeli people get the stain of the mass killer upon their reputation again? Will the rabbi who called for mass murder by plague (Israel has a well developed bioweapons program) ever be censured as he should be? Hopefully the international community will awaken to the potential for murder and mayhem if a plague is loosed on a starving, immune compromised people. Will they have the nerve to just say no for awhile to support for israel until the following conditions have been met?
    1) all settlement building cease and illegally appropriated lands returned to original owners.
    2) All religious leaders inducing people to kill are dealt with with the firmest criminal measures.
    3) All blockades and illegal laws preventing a people from surviving and meeting their own needs physical and psychospiritual are lifted to the satisfaction of the people so persecuted.
    4) All weapons of mass destruction are secured to the satisfaction of the international community with all security personnel tested with Theodore Adorno’s F-scale test and other throough tests for borderline psychopaths; those who would be most likely to steal weapons from secure facilities and use them for criminal mass murder of any form.
    There meeds to be a stern rebuke to all religious leaders whatever their faith who preach the justification of mass murder in any form in violation of their holy scriptures. Though they may live in fear and are disgusted with the state of the world, their aggressive reactions will only escalate situations that are already seriously immoral, inhumane and unsurvivable. Which god do they serve? Jesus Christ or lucifer the lightbringer? One is gentle and humane, compassionate and understanding, the other a deceiver and a killer of people and souls. It is a personal choice in the end and one with eternal consequences.
    Lyle Courtsal

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