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SA health-care workers have condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza

Palestinians check the damage amid the rubble of a destroyed building on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday following Israeli airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, early on May 13, 2021. Picture: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Palestinians check the damage amid the rubble of a destroyed building on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday following Israeli airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, early on May 13, 2021. Picture: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP

Published May 21, 2021

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Cape Town - More six hundred South African health-care workers have unequivocally condemned the Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza and expressed support for the people of Palestine.

In just 48 hours this week, 601 health-care workers – consisting of 450 medical doctors, health professionals, academics, and medical students from across the country – signed in support of a scathing letter, detailing atrocities committed against the Palestinians.

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Signatories include some of the country’s top researchers and health-care professionals, including Specialist Ethicist at the Office of the President Professor Ames Dhai, the SA Medical Research Council president Professor Glenda Gray, and retired Professor Yusuf Veriava, who was detained as a young doctor and the first applicant in the hearing against doctors complicit in the events leading to the death of Steve Biko.

Signatories called for the boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel, and for academic institutions cut all ties with “apartheid Israel”.

“We protest the ongoing apartheid policies of Israel, which has devastating and dehumanising impacts on the health and dignity of Palestinian communities, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea,” read the letter.

As part of a fact finding mission – sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – signatory and People’s Health Movement Steering committee member Professor Louis Reynolds visited Gaza in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge.

He said: “I am a human rights and health activist, and I think human rights violations are being committed by both Hamas and Israeli Defence Forces, but the violence of Israel is that of occupation and the violence of the other side is the violence of resistance.”

Retired medical doctor Natalya Dinat said: “Health is a human right and where there are abuses of this human right, health workers have an obligation to speak out. Palestinians are suffering military attacks, cruel blockades, denial of access to decent living conditions – A UN report found that Gaza is not a place where people can live in peacefully. The toll is enormous on children’s nutritional status, mental health, as well as the physical injuries and trauma.”

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A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip, came into force early Friday after 11 days of deadly fighting that pounded the Palestinian enclave and forced countless Israelis to seek shelter from rockets.

Previously, the Embassy of Israel in South Africa condemned the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas, claiming over 4 000 rockets have been launched into Israel in the past 10 days.

The embassy accused Hamas of prioritising attacks on Israel over providing humanitarian aid for residents in Gaza.

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