Amnesty raises alarm as Israel shuts down Palestinian health care provider | Health Info

The closure of the health workers union committee will have “catastrophic consequences” for Palestinian health care, according to the group.

Israel’s decision to shut down a key health organization in the occupied territories will have “catastrophic consequences” for Palestinians in need of medical care, warned global rights group Amnesty International.

IDF forces raided the Palestinian Health Workers Union Committee (UHWC) headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday, smashing the door, confiscating computers and memory readers and issuing a military order forcing the office to be closed for six months.

The UHWC operates hospitals and clinics for marginalized communities and has been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces, Amnesty said.

Workers have been harassed and arrested for the alleged affiliation of health providers to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party with an armed wing.

“Israel’s closure of its headquarters will have major consequences for the provision of essential health services to thousands of Palestinians, a women’s health program which was at the headquarters has now been shut down”, Saleh Higazi, deputy director of Amnesty for the Middle East and North Africa. , said in a statement.

“Clear obligation”

He said that “as the occupying power” Israel had “a clear obligation” under international law to protect the rights of all Palestinians – including their right to health care.

“So far, they have completely failed to meet this responsibility throughout the global pandemic, pursuing a discriminatory vaccination policy against COVID-19,” Higazi said.

“The Israeli authorities must immediately reverse the closure order and end the harassment of health workers. “

He said the targeting of the UHWC was part of a larger Israeli attack on Palestinian civil society organizations.

“Instead of criminalizing organizations providing vital health services, the Israeli authorities should end their institutionalized discrimination and systematic oppression of Palestinians,” Higazi said.

Amnesty said UHCW has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, raising awareness, offering public health advice and providing medical care to COVID-19 patients at its facilities in health, as well as reaching communities through mobile clinics.

More than 310,000 Palestinians have contracted COVID-19 and the virus has killed 3,500.

The organization is also leading local advocacy efforts to improve the Palestinian health system.

Amnesty said this was not the first time that the UHWC and its staff have been targeted by Israeli forces. Its Jerusalem office was closed by Israeli authorities in 2015.

Its Ramallah office, which was closed on Wednesday, had already been raided in October 2019 – when its CFO was arrested. In March, two more staff were arrested.

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