Statement on Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
May 28, 2021
In response to the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli government on Palestinians for protesting Israeli apartheid, the forced displacement of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, the bombing of the Health Ministry, the destruction of the only COVID-19 testing site in Gaza, and attacks on healthcare facilities and healthcare workers in Gaza as attacks on civilians escalate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, Student Advisory Board Members for Physicians for Human Rights have issued the following statement:
We recognize and denounce the blatant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by Israel. Settler colonialism in any form - including Israel's settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank - is illegal under international law and should not be tolerated. Israel's ongoing colonization of the Palestinian West Bank needs to be unequivocally opposed by the United States. Israel has continued to terrorize and ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homes, leading to protests by Palestinians. The protests this past month against dispossession in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah have prompted the Israeli government and military to relentlessly bomb Gaza and forcibly displace Palestinian civilians. Since May 7th, Israel’s attacks and bombings on civilians have killed 257 Palestinians, injured 6046 Palestinians, and internally displaced more than 72,000 Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with 91 reported incidents of attacks on healthcare workers, facilities, and vehicles. The attacks on Israel, by the militant group, Hamas, killed 12 Israelis. The apartheid system, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, illegal Israeli settlements, the 14-year blockade of Gaza, and the forced and violent dispossessions of Palestinian families such as those in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem comprise the root causes of this violence.
Medical facilities and medical personnel are manifestly protected under the principle of medical neutrality and international humanitarian law. The Israeli government has committed war crimes by killing healthcare workers, including Dr. Ayman Abu Al-Ouf, the head of Gaza’s COVID-19 response, and clinics providing trauma care to the wounded have been destroyed, including a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières clinic. The Israeli government has also via airstrikes destroyed the Health Ministry in Gaza, the main roads to the largest hospital in Gaza--al-Shifa Hospital, and the only COVID-19 testing facility during a global pandemic where currently, only 1.9 percent of Gaza’s two million people are fully vaccinated due to Israel’s limits of access to vaccines entering the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which is in violation of another international law. Currently, 57% of Israel’s population is fully vaccinated.
We demand that the United States recognize the humanity of Palestinians and start holding Israel accountable for their crimes against humanity. The United States government must cease funding the Israeli government and military for Israeli apartheid and war crimes through passage of The Palestinian Families and Children Act (H.R. 2590), which prevents the use of U.S. taxpayer funds by the Israeli government to imprison Palestinian children in military detention, to unlawfully seize, appropriate, and destroy Palestinian property, and to further violate international law by annexing Palestinian land.
Ahmed Amer Zanabli