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Israeli army shutdown of health organization will have catastrophic consequences for Palestinian healthcare – Amnesty International

As the occupying power, Israel has a legal obligation under the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect the rights of all Palestinians, including their right to health.  However, Israel is not only ignoring its own legal obligation under international law – as shown by its discriminatory Covid-19 vaccination policy– but is further disrupting the ability of Palestinians to exercise their rights in their own provision of healthcare.

On June 9, the Israeli army forces violently shut down the Palestinian Health Work Committees’ (HWC) headquarters in Ramallah for six months. The army broke down the door and then raided the center, confiscating computers and other data storage devices. This was one of a series of raids the HWC and its staff were subjected to.  The HWC’s Jerusalem office was shut down by Israeli authorities in 2015. Its Ramallah office was raided in October 2019 and March 2021, and staff members, including the finance director (in 2019), were arrested on different occasions.

The HWC is one of the main providers of health services in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), running hospitals and health clinics and providing medical care to marginalized communities.  It has also been one of the major facilities providing medical care for Covid-19 patients and hard-to-reach communities through its mobile clinics. Israel’s decision to shut its headquarters will severely disrupt the provision of essential health services to thousands of Palestinians.

Some observers suggest that the raid and forced shutdown are part of a deliberate attempt to attack Palestinian civil society organisations.  Amnesty International has demanded that Israel end its “institutionalised discrimination and systematic oppression of Palestinians” and stop “criminalizing organizations [who provide] vital health services”.

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