zio-bastards (milfs included)

The Lancet censors Gaza health letter after pro-Israel pressure
Omar Karmi, Electronic Intifada, Oct 1 2020

A doctor in Gaza City using a temperature test machine to test a boy for coronavirus.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

With a fresh spike in the number of coronavirus infections, Gaza is yet again facing the very real prospect that its health-care system will be overwhelmed. Gaza is not just fighting a global pandemic. Under an Israeli blockade and successive military attacks since 2007, the coastal strip is fighting one of the highest levels of poverty and unemployment in the world as well as a crumbling infrastructure, including in its health sector. A severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment that is directly linked to the Israeli siege could, combined with the ravages of a pandemic, threaten the health service with complete collapse. At least one of those things can be remedied fairly quickly should Israel ease or end its blockade. But pointing that out is not as simple as it might seem, as four medical and human rights professionals from around the world have found to their dismay. Back in March, when the pandemic first hit Gaza, David Mills of Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Bram Wispelwey of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Rania Muhareb formerly of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, and Mads Gilbert of University Hospital of North Norway, wrote a short letter to The Lancet, one of the world’s foremost medical journals. Pandemics will cause more damage to “populations burdened by poverty, military occupation, discrimination and institutionalized oppression,” the authors pointed out. They urged the international community to act to end the “structural violence” that is being inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza. They concluded:

A COVID-19 pandemic that further cripples the Gaza Strip’s health-care system should not be viewed as an inevitable biomedical phenomenon experienced equally by the world’s population, but as a preventable biosocial injustice rooted in decades of Israeli oppression and international complicity.

The letter, entitled “Structural violence in the era of a new pandemic: the case of the Gaza Strip,” was duly published online on Mar 27. Just three days later, however, in a move unusual if not unprecedented for The Lancet, the letter was taken down without comment. It can still be read, on an academic publishing search engine site, here. Wispelwey, who is also an instructor at Harvard Medical School, said:

Once we noticed, we reached out to The Lancet for an explanation. The Lancet would only say that “our commentary had precipitated a serious crisis,” but offered no detail, no further comment and no published explanation for readers.

The authors did note that the letter had caused a stir among Israel’s supporters in the medical community. One prominent activist, Daniel Drucker, a renowned Canadian endocrinologist, took to Twitter on Mar 29 to excoriate The Lancet and its editor, Richard Horton. he wrote:

As the world battles COVID-19, The Lancet and Richard Horton seize the opportunity to publish letters bashing Israel.

In a blog post, Drucker commended Horton for his “swift decision” to remove the “blame Israel” letter from The Lancet. That drew a swift response from Palestine Legal, lamenting that Drucker had forced The Lancet to censor itself. Drucker also compared anti-Semitism to a virus, claiming that “anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Israel invective, are highly related strains.”

Drucker is not new to this kind of pro-Israel advocacy. He was part of a highly effective campaign against The Lancet in 2014, after the publication ran “An open letter for the people of Gaza” protesting the effect of Israel’s military assault that year. The assault left more than 2.2k people dead, mostly civilians, among them 550 children. By the end of Jul 2014, and in the middle of Israel’s offensive, that letter had received more than 20k signatures whose names The Lancet announced it would not publish after “several threatening statements to those signatories.” Among the threatening statements, it was later revealed, were personal attacks against Horton accusing him of anti-Semitism and depiciting him in a Nazi uniform. His wife was verbally attacked and his daughter was told by classmates that her father was an anti-Semite. In response to that letter, Drucker started a petition to keep medicine and science publications “free of divisive political opinions.” The petition attracted more than 5k signatures, and caused pro-Israel medical professionals the world over, but especially in North America, to boycott The Lancet for five years.

Eventually, and after The Lancet in 2017 dedicated an entire issue to Israel’s health-care system, the boycott was rescinded. But the fear is, said Wispelwey, that medical journals are now subject to indirect censorship or self-censorship on Palestine as a result of the “overall chilling effect” of the campaign against The Lancet. The commentary he had co-authored in March, Wispelwey argued, was not more strongly worded than pieces published elsewhere in mainstream or Israeli media. Wispelwey said:

The extremeness of the response suggests an understanding that this is a space, academic medical journals, that is off-limits to even mainstream ideas, documentation and discourse on the Palestinian health context that contain criticism of Israel.

The Electronic Intifada reported in March that the widely-used dashboard for COVID-19 published by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering had effectively erased Palestinians by merging data for Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. That decision was eventually reversed but the silencing of pro-Palestinian voices, in academia and beyond, has been well documented by everyone from Edward Said to Judith Butler. It is an effort that shows little sign of abating. Just last month, major social media companies, Zoom, Facebook and YouTube, pulled out the stops to prevent an event organized by San Francisco State University with Leila Khaled, a Palestinian icon of resistance and former fighter with the PFLP, now in her 70s. And across the world, pro-Israel groups are lobbying governments at all levels to ban the BDS movement, which they smear as anti-Semitic. The argument for silencing criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in medical and science publications is that these should be void of “divisive” political content. But that, said Rania Muhareb, a scholar and legal researcher with Al-Haq when the March letter was written, is disingenuous. Questions of public health are very clearly political, universal health-care being one obvious example, with social and political inequalities recognized as root causes of ill health. In conflict zones they are impossible to separate. Muhareb told The Electronic Intifada:

Realization of the right to health is closely linked to the fulfilment of other fundamental rights.

In Gaza, politics is most certainly at play when it comes to health. Exercising total control over all imports into Gaza, including humanitarian aid, the Israeli military has nevertheless failed to establish any contingency plan for Gaza as the impoverished region tries to cope with COVID-19. Israel’s refusal to act is despite the fact that it remains the occupying power under international law, and thus is legally responsible for the basic welfare of everyone in Gaza. And it has not been for a lack of warning. Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups have repeatedly appealed for Israel to formulate a plan or, more effectively, lift the siege altogether before it is too late. The numbers tell a foreboding tale: When the pandemic first hit Gaza in March, it was confined to the few travelers making their way in and out of the besieged coastal strip. They were easy to identify and quarantine. The first death linked to COVID-19 came in May, some two months after the first confirmed cases, and was also in an isolation facility. But once community transmission started in late August, numbers surged. Confirmed cases shot from 200 in late August to more than 2.6k, as of Sep 25. There have been 17 deaths. Mads Gilbert, a surgeon who for many years worked in Gaza, told The Electronic Intifada:

The health-care system in Gaza has been pushed to the brink of collapse. Israel’s blockade and repeated military assaults have fatally undermined health-care provision in Gaza, and left hospitals and clinics unable and unprepared to cope with a pandemic. The fear is that an uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak in the Gaza Strip will completely overburden Gaza’s health-care system, thereby compounding Palestinians’ susceptibility to the pandemic under conditions of structural violence.

Fair comment for medical professionals? Not according to Zion Hagay of the Israeli Medical Association, whose letter in response to the now non-existent letter written by Gilbert et al was published in the latest online edition of The Lancet. Hagay denounced the March letter as “political rhetoric,” and defended Israel’s blockade as “a necessary response to arms smuggling and non-ceasing violence against Israel.” He lauded Israel for “allowing” Palestinian patients to “continue to enter Israel to receive life-saving medical treatment.” But Palestinians in Gaza face a widely criticized and onerous process to obtain permits from the Israeli military to travel for treatment or any other reason. Due to Israeli delays and denials of permits, Palestinian patients routinely die for lack of treatment. There were 54 such deaths documented by the WHO in 2017 alone. Hagay also omitted to note that UN Sec-Gen António Guterres, whom he otherwise quotes lauding cooperation between Israel and the PA in response to COVID-19, has long described Gaza as one of the world’s most “dramatic” humanitarian crises and called for the siege to be lifted. Wispelwey said:

But, beyond that, it’s astounding that The Lancet decided to publish a letter in response to an article that had already been taken down. It just makes the whole situation more bizarre. Publishing a response to a now ‘disappeared’ piece and allowing him to comment on its removal? Censorship and surveillance are classic methods of settler-colonial control. Rather than aiming for a false “balance” of viewpoints that fails to account for power differentials, we must start recognizing, naming and resisting these forces in academic medicine and beyond.

The Lancet did not wish to comment.

Palestine in Pictures
Electronic Intifada, Sep 30 2020

A child peers through a hole in the wall in a home that caught on fire, killing three children, in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza, on Sep 1. The fire is believed to have been caused by a candle lit during a power outage after Israel cut off fuel to Gaza’s power plant in an act of collective punishment over the launching of incendiary balloons from the territory.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

Two Palestinian brothers were killed by the Egyptian army while fishing off of Gaza’s coastal waters on 25 September. A third brother was injured. Their boat is suspected to have crossed into Egyptian waters, according to the Gaza-based human rights group Al Mezan. The group called for an investigation and urged Egyptian authorities to review their open-fire regulations. Weeks earlier, three brothers aged 5 and younger were killed in a house fire in central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp on Sep 1. The fire was likely started by a candle during a power outage after Israel temporarily banned fuel deliveries to Gaza’s sole power station, reducing the availability of electricity in the territory. The fuel ban, a form of collective punishment, was presented as a response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza toward southern Israel. As of Sep 26, Palestinians in Gaza received an average of 11 hours of electricity per day. The Gaza Strip has been under a comprehensive siege enforced by Israel and Egypt since 2007. As cases of coronavirus surged in Gaza during the month, international development agencies working in Palestine called on Israel “to end all collective punitive measures against the civilian population” in the territory. Cases of COVID-19 rose by 86 percent in Gaza during September, the WHO stated on Sep 24. A shortage of coronavirus test kits was reported in both Gaza and the West Bank during the month. There have been nearly 50k confirmed cases in occupied Palestinian territory, more than 300 of them fatal. Israel announced a three-week lockdown until Oct 11 as coronavirus cases spiked in there. Cases of the coronavirus surged in neighboring Jordan in September as well. UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick said that Israel’s unlawful demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank have spiked during the coronavirus crisis, leaving hundreds of people homeless. McGoldrick stated:

The global pandemic has increased the needs and vulnerabilities of Palestinians, who are already trapped in the abnormality of prolonged military occupation. Unlawful demolitions exacerbate these vulnerabilities and must stop immediately.

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester during a demonstration against settlement expansion in the village of Jbara, south of the West Bank city of Tulkarm, on Sep 1.
Photo: Shadi Jarar’ah/APA.

Palestinians entertain children during a lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19, Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on Sep 2.
Photo: Ashraf Amra APA images

Palestinians hold a vigil in the West Bank city of Nablus on Sep 3 to mourn prisoner Daoud al-Khatib, 45, who died of a heart attack in Israeli prison the day before. Al-Khatib, arrested in 2002 due to his military activity against the Israeli army, was only three months away from the end of his 18-year sentence.
Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ActiveStills

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh visits Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp in south Lebanon on 6 September. Haniyeh met with Palestinian factions over Arab states normalizing relations with Israel during his first visit to Lebanon in 27 years.
Photo: Hamas.

Palestinian children walk past Israeli soldiers on their way to school in the West Bank city of Hebron’s Old City on Sep 6.
Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA.

A dog named Billy undergoes rehabilitation for a new prosthetic limb in cooperation with Gaza municipality’s artificial limbs center at the Sulala Society for Animal Care shelter in Gaza City, Sep 10.
Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour/APA.

An employee with UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, administers vaccines to a baby in a clinic in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, Sep 12.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA

Palestinian artists paint a mural to help curb the spread of COVID-19, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, Sep 13.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

Trump, Netanyahu and the UAE and Bahraini foreign ministers sign an agreement normalizing relations between Israel and the Gulf states at the White House lawn, Sep 15.
Photo: Polaris.

Palestinians in central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp protest against the UAE and Bahrain normalizing relations with Israel, Sep 15.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

Israeli bulldozers raze land along inside Gaza’s eastern boundary in Bureij, central Gaza, Sep 15.
Photo: Mohammed Khatib/APA.

200916-yattaPalestinians watch Israeli soldiers during a military training exercise in Yatta village, southern West Bank district of Hebron, Sep 16.
Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA.

Israeli soldiers participate in a military training exercise in the Palestinian village of Yatta, southern West Bank district of Hebron, Sep 16.
Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA.

A Palestinian police officer spays a recruit with disinfectant during a training session in Gaza City, Sep 17.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills.

Palestinians in Gaza City take part in a caravan to mark the anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre and to protest against the UAE and Bahrain normalizing relations with Israel, Sep 17.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

Palestinians sit on the beach at al-Shati refugee camp, Gaza City, Sep 18.
Photo: Mohammed Salem/APA.

Palestinians wear protective face masks and practice physical distancing as they shop at a supermarket in Gaza City on Sep 19.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills.

A Palestinian medical worker takes a sample from a child at a mosque in Gaza City, Sep 20 while testing for potential COVID-19 cases.
Photo: Mohammed Zaanoun/ActiveStills.

Israeli forces destroy a Palestinian home on the pretext that it was built without a permit in the town of Beit Awa, near the West Bank city of Hebron, Sep 23.
Photo: Mosab Shawer/APA.

Palestinian farmers harvest dates from a palm tree in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, Sep 24.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

An Israeli settler watches Palestinians protest against land confiscation in Asira al-Qibliya village in the West Bank, Sep 25. At least two Palestinians were injured after the Israeli army and a group of armed settlers dispersed the protest.
Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ActiveStills.

The parents of three fishers who went missing after they were fired on by the Egyptian Navy participate in a protest in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, Sep 26. Two of the fishers were later confirmed to have been killed and the third brother was injured.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

Palestinians wait for permits to cross into Egypt via Rafah crossing, Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Sep 27.
Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA.

Palestinians march in the West Bank city of Ramallah to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the second intifada against Israeli occupation and colonization, Sep 28.
Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/ActiveStills.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayeh chairs the weekly meeting of his government in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sep 28.
Photo: PA PMO.

Palestinian children wear protective face masks as they cool off in a pool set up on a Gaza City rooftop, Sep 28.
Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour/APA.

Palestinian parkour players wear protective face masks as they show off their skills on a Gaza City rooftop, Sep 28.
Photo: Mohammed Salem/APA.

An Israeli Border Police soldier stands guard as Israeli machinery demolishes a Palestinian home near the West Bank city of Hebron, Sep 30.
Photo: Mashhoor Wahwah/WAFA.

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