Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: International community must protect civilians in Israel and Gaza
Since Hamas’ attack on Israeli civilians on Saturday, October 7, and the ensuing bombing campaign in Gaza by Israel, the dedicated staff and volunteers of Right Livelihood Laureate organisation Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) have tirelessly provided humanitarian aid to both Israelis and Palestinians. Now, they urge the international community to step in and ensure the full protection of civilians in Gaza and Israel.
“We have championed human rights and everyone’s rights to health since 1988, and we have never seen anything like what we see now,” said Dana Moss, International Advocacy Coordinator for PHRI, when addressing the spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine and the urgent humanitarian crisis in Gaza at a press conference hosted by Right Livelihood on Thursday, October 19.
In the wake of Hamas’ attack on Israel, PHRI has assisted the overwhelmed Israeli health system in the South, especially in Kibbutz Beeri. Volunteers have also visited injured Thai workers who are excluded from the Israeli public health system.
“We have also collected information about the necessary medication that the children, men, women and elderly taken hostage by Hamas need and sent it to the Palestinian Minister of Health in Gaza,” said Moss. “We call on Hamas to immediately release civilian hostages and that they receive the care and dignity that they need.”
PHRI has also been speaking out forcefully against the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza, calling on the international community to stop Israeli war crimes.
Moss reaffirmed that the Hamas attack had not challenged PHRI’s position that Israel must end its occupation of the Palestinian territory.
“Our principles have not changed,” said Moss. “We are a human rights organisation and call things what they are. We have been very clear that Hamas committed war crimes. Israel has also committed war crimes in Gaza.”
Between October 7 and 18, the World Health Organisation documented Israeli attacks damaging 26 hospitals and other healthcare facilities, as well as 23 ambulances in Gaza. Sixteen healthcare workers were killed, and 28 were injured. Several hospitals in Gaza have been evacuated and are not operational anymore.
“Israel has for many years de-developed the healthcare system in Gaza,” Moss said, noting that now, it was worse than ever. “There’s a lack of essential medical equipment, and some doctors are using vinegar to sterilise their tools.”
“Israel’s calls to evacuate hospitals are part of its policy of forced displacement, also violating medical ethics,” said Moss.
Founded in 1988, PHRI works to promote a just society where the right to health is granted equally to all people under Israel’s responsibility. The organisation received the Right Livelihood Award in 2010 “for their indomitable spirit in working for the right to health for all people in Israel and Palestine.”