Month: March 2020

News on Covid-19 in the Occupied Territories from The Lancet

Palestine and COVID-19–Two powerful new articles from “The Lancet” medical journal:

– March 26 from The Lancet, Structural violence in the era of a new pandemic: The case of Gaza

This is an excellent and extensive study on the health of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank by the world respected medical journal “The Lancet.”

“This is the first of five reports about the health status and health services in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory—the West Bank (including Palestinian Arab East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. We emphasize the complexity of factors that contribute to Palestinian health and health-system problems: ongoing colonization—ie,

    • continued Israeli land confiscation;
    • building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land;
    • fragmentation of communities and land;
    • acute and constant insecurities;
    • routine violations of human rights by Israeli military forces;
    • poor governance and mismanagement in the Palestinian National Authority;
    • and dependence on international aid for resources.

These and other factors have distorted and fragmented the Palestinian health system and adversely affected population health.”

March 26 from The Lancet, Tracking COVID-19 Responsibly

Johns Hopkins University suddenly has removed the Occupied Palestinian Territories from their disease tracking system apparently merging it wth Israel in cooperation with the US Department of State–making it very difficult to track COVID-19.

“The removal of the oPt from their tracking system (CSSE dashboard) goes against global scientific cooperation and solidarity, resulting in discrepancies with official data recorded by the Palestinian and Israeli Health Ministries. Consistency with international law and the need for impartial data on the spread of COVID-19 requires databases to list the oPt separately, as reflected in WHO practice. Instead, removing the oPt and merging it with Israel undermines the credibility of the CSSE dashboard. All the more concerning is the dashboard’s use of US State Department country designations,5 which have legitimised the acquisition of territory by force6 and undermined Palestinian identity and rights in Jerusalem.7

It is regrettable that Johns Hopkins University, an institution with historic ties to the slave trade,8 should continue its colonial violence against the indigenous Palestinian people by removing Palestine from the world map. In the same way that Johns Hopkins University has started acknowledging the indigenous Piscataway people, the traditional owners of the lands upon which the university is built,9 Johns Hopkins University must also recognize symbolic violence10 and ensure that it does not contribute to the erasure of indigenous peoples across the globe.”

The 2020 Freedom Flotilla will sail against the Blockade of Gaza later than planned

In light of global health restrictions on travel and public gatherings, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has decided to delay our planned departure towards Gaza. We had initially planned to visit several southern European ports in April and May of this year, and head for Gaza at the end of May, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara and other Freedom Flotilla vessels in 2010, that killed 10 peace activists. We will of course stand with our IHH partners as they commemorate those deaths and press for justice at the International Criminal Court.

With the help of supporters like you, we recently purchased a boat for this year’s voyage. We will still need more donations to help equip this boat with vital safety, communications and other materials, as well as to buy fuel and other supplies for our next challenge to the inhuman and illegal blockade of Gaza. Visit our updated website for updates about this boat and our preparations over the coming months. We will decide when our next voyage will begin based on ongoing reviews of public health conditions worldwide and in the ports we are planning to visit.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created new challenges for our Coalition members in each of our countries, especially as our grassroots civil society organizations depend on public support. We also know that conditions in Gaza are immeasurably more difficult, and that Palestinians there are particularly vulnerable now that the first Covid-19 cases have arrived there. The crowded conditions in Gaza, with a healthcare system which is already stretched, and extremely limited access to outside medical aid, all mean that we must keep the Palestinian people of Gaza in mind as we adapt to new realities worldwide.

We join organizations like the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza in calling on the international community and the World Health Organization to pressure Israeli authorities to allow entry of medical supplies and equipment necessary for Corona virus medical examination. While access to international medical aid will be vital to surviving the current crisis, we know that the only lasting peaceful solution for Gaza will be a permanent end to the 13 year blockade, with full freedom of movement for all Palestinians.

Ultimately, we must hold our governments responsible: their political complicity allows Israel to maintain the blockade of Gaza and prevent Palestinian refugees from exercising their right of return to their homeland. Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated: please do what you can to stay healthy and engaged with solidarity campaigns. Together we can help end the blockade.

In solidarity,

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition

U.S. Boats To Gaza Efforts During The Corona Virus Epidemic

As the world faces the Covid-19 epidemic our hearts go out to the people of Gaza where the virus has now appeared.  Gaza is an even more dangerous place for the Corona virus outbreak with a health care system that is hampered by the illegal blockade, with a population forced to live in close quarters due to restricted movement and being denied their right to return home, and the water being unfit for consumption.  In solidarity with the people of Gaza, we are organizing events:

And please remember to donate to the various organizations that are helping Gaza through the Corona crisis and in the long term including the UN Works and Relief Agency, Rebuilding Alliance, and Middle East Children’s Alliance.