Political Pressure as medicine

120 Flemish physicians (updated to 140) call for an economic and military embargo against Israel and join the International call which was published this week in The Lancet

More than 1,8 Milion people live in Gaza, half of them Chilren. Israel has, since 2007, closed the water, air and territorial boundaries of the Gaza strip hermetically, turning it into the largest open air prison in the world. Rockets are often fired from this open air prison to Israël by groups who oppose the occupation. These rockets don’t make a lot of material or human damage, partially because of the effective air defence system Israël has installed.

Israël has also started bombing the Gaza strip since July 8th. Its the third largest bombing campaign in 6 years. About 630 Palestinians have been killed and more than 4000 people hurt. One out of the three victims are younger than 18. Thousands houses, mosques, schools and harbors have been destroyed. A revalidation hospital and ambulance centrale have also been reduced to ashes. The attack of hospitals is unprecedented and a case of war crime. Gaza has nowhere hide : no place is safe enough to escape to.

The hospitals are packed. The transporting of wounded people is difficult, because the fuel for the ambulances is almost empty. Doctors and nurses are working around the clock, but hardly have sufficient elctricity or medicine and not enough medical instruments. The work of care givers is deliberately being hampered, and that is a disgrace.

How neutral can one remain ?

Doctors try to keep as neutral as possible, because they are convinced that each life counts as much. But a conflict where more than 95 percent of the victims fall on one side is not a war. It is a massacre. A massacre where innocent children have no where to go, are bombed through land, air and sea is not a war. It is a crackdown. And you don’t buy oranges from countries that are guilty of massacre and crackdown, nor do you spend your holidays there, you don’t sell your weapons to them and you don’t play a UEFA soccer game with them.

As has been stated by Mads Gilbert, a Norvegian doctor who is now working at the Al-Shifa-hospital in Gaza city : ‘as doctors we for once don’t ask for any bandage or syringe. Don’t send any medical staff. The most important medical intervention you can make at this point is to put Israël under pressure to stop bombing and to lift the seige’

The silence of Belgian politicians

As medical doctors, we call upon our politicians to condemn Israël very strongly for the crimes against humanity it is committing in Gaza and to complement this condemnation with an economic and military embargo.

We join the call of our international colleagues published in the distinguished medical journal The Lancet to strongly condemn the violence in Gaza.

Governemntal negotiations might be important in these holidays, but they are no an excuse to remain passive against the injustices in the rest of the world. We are dissapointed and indignated by the deafening silence of our our politicians on the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza strip.

Failing to sanction the current slaughtering in Gaza is morally unjust. Israel cannot claim a blind spot in our conscience.