A response to an anti-Israel paper originally published in 2014 by the formerly prestigious British Medical Journal contains out and out lies about Israel and Gaza.
Written by Derek A Summerfield, David Halpin, Swee Ang, Andrea Balduzzi, Franco Camandona, Gianni Tognoni, Ireo Bono, Marina Rui, and Vittorio Agnoletto of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College, the reply is called The Maiming Fields of Gaza and says:
Since 30 March 2018, Palestinians civilians living as refugees and exiles in Gaza ever since they were driven out from Palestine have been gathering in mass, unarmed demonstration about their right of return to the homeland they lost in 1948. Confronted by the Israeli army, including 100 snipers, the toll of dead and wounded Palestinian civilians is mounting at a shocking rate as we write.
1. They aren’t refugees nor exiles according to the definition of refugee accepted by the UN.
2. Demonstrations that include firebombs cannot be called “unarmed.”
3. There is no “right of return” for descendants of people who fled their homes voluntarily, which most of their ancestors did.
4. Israel has the right to defend its borders with deadly force, as does every other state. If these doctors can come up with methods to keep Israel’s borders safe that are more effective and less damaging, they are invited to give Israel advice. They do not.
There is a background to this. Firstly, there is the ongoing impact of the 12 year long Israeli blockade of Gaza on the care and health of her people, and the degrading of its health services. The violence and destruction inflicted by Israeli military action in Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9 marked a distinct turning point in the pauperization of Gaza, against a backdrop of an ever tightening blockade since 2006.That assault in 2014 killed over 2,200 civilians, a quarter of whom were children, wounded 11.000, destroyed 15 hospitals, 45 clinics and 80,000 homes.(1)
5. The degrading of Gaza’s health services are nearly all because of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel. For the past five years at least, Israel has not blocked any medicine or medical equipment from entering Gaza with very small exceptions of dual use devices, and even those almost always get through after a delay. The PA has directly blocked basic medicines and equipment and stopped salaries of support staff, which has directly hurt Gaza medical services. This is all well documented and the authors not mentioning that fact is indeed the single biggest indication that this essay is not meant to reflect the truth but anti-Israel propaganda.
6. The “blockade” (more precisely, closure) has not been “ever tightening” since 2006.It has been significantly loosened in recent years. The authors are lying.
7. The authors are claiming that every single person killed Operation Protective edge was an innocent civilian. This is absurd – nearly half of the dead were militants. Even the article referenced admits that at least 1/3 of those killed were militants. .The authors are lying, and knowingly lying.
8. A significant number of the women and children killed were human shields for the terrorists. While the war was still raging I documented 108 of the children who were killed in houses where the terrorist was the target and the children were used to protect them.
9. 15 hospitals destroyed? This is a laughable lie. The source cited does not make that claim. The authors simply made it up.
Since 2014 Israel has further tightened the passage of essential medicines and equipment into Gaza, and of the entry of doctors and experts from abroad who offer technical expertise not available locally.
10. As mentioned, Israel has not tightened passage of medicines at all. This is a complete lie.
Gazan hospitals have been depleted of antibiotics, anaesthetic agents, painkillers, other essential drugs, disposables, and fuel to run surgical theatres. (2)
11. The footnoted article notes indeed falsely blames Israel, but it adds that the crisis in Gaza is “caused by the severe crisis in the relations between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which leads to denial of funding and deliveries of medical supplies and medicines by the former – at the expense of the civilians in the Gaza Strip.” The authors purposeful omission of this section again proves that they are not in the least objective reporters, and this is not fit for publication.
All elective surgery has been cancelled since last January 2018, and 3 hospitals have closed because of medication, equipment and fuel shortages (3).
12. The footnoted article for this does not mention Israel as being responsible at all. The workers went on strike because they were not paid by the PA.
Medical personnel have been working on reduced salaries.
13. See above. Nothing to do with Israel.
Gazan health professionals find it almost impossible to get Israeli permission to travel abroad to further their training.
14. Whether this is true or not, there is another border to Gaza – Egypt. The authors refusal to mention that Egypt also blocks Gazans from coming in or traveling through it, also for security reasons, is yet another indication that this is a polemic that does not belong in a medical journal.
The regular episodic military assaults on Gaza and the current targeting of unarmed demonstrators are part of a pattern of periodically induced emergencies arising from Israeli policy.
15. Exactly how did Israeli policy force violent demonstrators to storm Israel’s border, to set Israeli fields on fire, or – previously – to shoot thousands of rockets towards Israeli civilians? This is again propaganda, not worthy of the BMJ.
This appears to be a strategy for the de-development of health and social services impinging on all the population of Gaza.
16. Israel has actually proposed solutions to Gaza’s problems that have been caused by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Israel is not served in the least by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that was inflicted by the infighting between the two parties. This is just another lie.
.The current systematic use of excessive force towards unarmed civilians, including children and journalists, is provoking a further crisis for the people of Gaza.
17. 80% of those killed have been linked to terror groups. That is a strong indication that Israeli defensive actions are very specific towards violent rioters who pose a risk. It is not at all the way these authors represent it.
Derek Summerfield has been obsessed with promoting anti-Israel propaganda for at least 20 years. He says he has “always been angry at Israel.” As this letter proves, he is not interested in the truth – his entire purpose of writing this is to bash Israel and to obscure the truth.
The BMJ should at least read the footnotes of the letters it publishes and not assume that every doctor is an objective observer. Summerfield and his co-authors obviously are anything but.
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