“Governments must put human rights and dignity at the centre”
Raji Sourani, The Right Livelihood Foundation, May 8, 2020
On the evening of 21 March 2020, Gaza’s health ministry confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19. Overpopulated and impoverished, the Gaza Strip faces particular vulnerability in the context of the pandemic. A potential large-scale outbreak of the virus would constitute another enormous strain on Gaza’s population, already affected by more than a decade of Israeli blockade, causing extreme poverty, harsh living conditions, dysfunctional infrastructure and a fragile healthcare system. Furthermore, Israel’s over half-century-long occupation of Gaza involved systematic human rights violations against the Palestinian population, including the use of excessive lethal force against protesters and prolonged administrative detention without charge or trial.
It is in these exceptional circumstances that 2013 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Raji Sourani has been tirelessly working to defend and promote human rights. As the most prominent human rights lawyer based in the Gaza Strip, Sourani established the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights to document and investigate human rights violations committed in the Occupied Territories, and has defended countless victims before Israeli courts. For his activism, he has been imprisoned six times by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
At the time of writing this article, 19 people in Gaza were tested positive with COVID-19. Giving the enormous challenges that this pandemic poses to the Palestinian population, we asked Sourani to give us more details about the situation in the Gaza Strip, where he currently resides.
Since the Coronavirus crisis began, IfNotNow has focused most of our movement’s resources on supporting the millions of Palestinian people trapped in Gaza, a densely populated strip of land that Israel’s military blockade has turned into an open air prison. Together, we gathered 13,000 signatures on a petition demanding the Israeli government lift the blockade and act to protect Gaza. And we have raised over $15,000 to provide direct medical aid to Gaza.
We did all this because the Israeli blockade — combined with Israel’s regular military assaults — have weakened Gaza’s public health system, and we know that an outbreak in Gaza would have devastating consequences.
We also know that the American Jewish establishment have defended and justified the Israeli military blockade of Gaza since it began 13 years ago. The myths they have created and perpetuated have paved the way to a complete dehumanization of the millions of people living in Gaza and a failure to put forward any serious political solutions to this crisis.
Date: 14 April 2020
Time: 10:00 GMT
Second Appeal in COVID-19 Crisis
PCHR Calls for Immediate Release of Minors, Women, Patients and Elderly among Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails
At a time where the whole world is combating the coronavirus pandemic and States have adopted precautionary and preventive measures to defy the virus, Israeli authorities maintain the imprisonment of more than 5,000 Palestinians, including 180 children, 43 women, and more than 700 patients in harsh and unsanitary conditions that are inhumane to say the least.
Imprisonment conditions for Palestinians in Israeli jails do not meet the minimum international standards guaranteed under the international humanitarian law (IHL), as Israeli prisons provide inadequate living conditions, and they are crowded.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has been closely following the concerning updates relevant to the reality of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails with the spread of coronavirus. Despite PCHR’s numerous and urgent interventions with the Israeli authorities, and its continued demands that Israeli authorities adopt immediately and urgently the necessary measures to protect inmates from the coronavirus pandemic, Israeli authorities have adopted a number of measures that further violates prisoners’ rights. Israeli authorities have adopted strict new measures, including banning visitations with prisoners’ families, and prisoners’ lawyers since 17 March 2020, without offering an alternative mean to ensure prisoners have constant contact with their families and lawyers.
This webinar is part of a series of virtual events to raise funds for the Let’s Get Free 2020 Program. We are requesting a donation to join the webinar, from $0 – $50. Additional donations are welcome! Can’t attend? Donations are always welcome: DONATE HERE
Eyewitness Palestine & the March for Racial Justice are excited to host Continue reading
Recorded on WORT 89.9 FM A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur: WORT website • SoundCloud • Facebook • Twitter
Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.
Here are three good options for sending medical relief to Palestine and Gaza:
- Rebuilding Alliance has a matching grant deadline of midnight EST on Friday, March 27: Closed
- The Middle East Children’s Alliance needs to raise $45,000 ASAP for a targeted prevention campaign in Gaza: Donate
- Finally, United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) is appealing for emergency funds for all of Palestine: Donate
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