‘We see Apartheid SA’s policies practiced by the Israeli State’, say health workers’

By Al Qalam Reporter

Over 600 South African health-workers have signed a document condemning the blatant disregard of innocent lives as the barbaric Zionist regime indiscriminately killed over 230 in a brutal bombing campaign in Gaza.

In an overwhelmingly rapid and heartfelt response, the health-workers signed the document within 48 hours of releasing it. Signatories included a range of South African health workers, 450 medical doctors; health professionals from many fields; academics and medical students, from across the country.

Signatories included Professor Ames Dhai Specialist Ethicist, Office of President and CEO South African Medical Research Council, Visiting Professor School of Clinical Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand; Professor Glenda Gray, President of the South African Medical Research Council and retired Professor Yusuf Veriava, who was detained as a young doctor and was the first applicant in the hearing against doctors complicit in the events leading to the death of medical student, Steven Bantu Biko.

Part of the statement read: “We, as South African health workers unequivocally condemn the latest violence against Palestinians by the state of Israel. We protest the ongoing apartheid policies of Israel which has devastating and dehumanizing impacts on the health and dignity of Palestinian communities from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea.

“In what is yet another violation of medical neutrality and the Geneva Conventions, Israel has in recent days, blocked ambulances from reaching wounded patients in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. While settlers were violently dispossessing Palestinians from their land and homes, Israeli forces were preventing those Palestinians they had wounded from receiving treatment.

“We are horrified by the latest wave of air strikes unleashed on the 2 million people trapped in the 365 sq. km open air prison that is Gaza. Nowhere is safe in Gaza. The principal of ‘do no harm’ which has histories in Jewish and Islamic, as well as Chinese and Indian medicine was violated when Health facilities in Gaza, including a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic were struck and damaged, and when the main road to access Al Shifa hospital became virtually impassable due to bomb craters.

“On the 15th May 2021, our colleague, Dr Ayman Abu Aloof, the head of the Internal Medicine Department at Al Shifa hospital and head of the COVID-19 response was killed by an Israeli airstrike on his home.

“As health workers, we have a duty to speak out in support of saving lives and caring for all people. We cannot turn a blind eye in the face of such suffering. We see much of Apartheid South Africa’s policies practiced by the Israeli state.

“When Palestinians are segregated into enclaves and are denied the means to provide health care to their population, we are reminded of the bantustans of South Africa. Palestinians are unable to access specialist treatment in ‘Israeli only’ health facilities without special permits, some have died waiting for such travel permits.

“We saw this in ‘whites only’ health facilities in apartheid South Africa. Palestinians are stripped of their dignity through dehumanising searches and restrictions on movement, echoing our own history of the pass law system. As Palestinians, including children, are arrested, beaten and tortured we remember the brutal policing of apartheid South Africa.”

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