Constricting Palestinian human rights and the right to health: Israeli apartheid policies

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Ali, an 11-month-old cancer patient, at the Qalandiya military checkpoint. (credit: Tamar Fleishman, The Palestine Chronicle)
Dr. Rothchild highlights the need to acknowledge the Palestinian right to health in its broadest definition.

By Alice Rothchild | The Palestine Chronicle  | July 26, 2022

This right to health is endangered when the dominant power is able to weaponize unsubstantiated security risks and labels of terrorism to shut down civil society organizations…

There is a growing consensus that the behaviors of the Israeli government fulfill the definition of an apartheid regime. There is also a growing consensus that Palestinians who are Israeli citizens or stateless in the occupied Palestinian territories or refugee camps lack civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights as a manifestation of the settler colonialism that characterizes the Israeli state.  These structural issues, grounded in the colonialism and racism of the early 20th century British Empire and Zionist ideology, are distinctly threatening to Palestinian human rights and their right to health.

This right to health is endangered when the dominant power is able to weaponize unsubstantiated security risks and labels of terrorism to shut down civil society organizations, especially when this framing is accepted and unchallenged by external actors. The false October 2021 designation of six prominent Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist” organizations with militant links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, using “secret evidence” collected by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, is a manifestation of that settler colonial violence on a national scale.

This designation has both direct and indirect consequences for physical and mental health, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Israel tightening its already restrictive closure policies. More than 60% of the households in the occupied Palestinian territories reported a decrease in income, and both gender-based violence and settler attacks, the latter committed with almost total impunity, sometimes encouraged by the Israeli military, have increased dramatically.

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