LSHTM Solidarity with Gaza letter to the Lancet sign now

Dear Lancet Editorial Staff,

In response to the recent letter by Braunstein and colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (1), we respectfully submit the following:

We are students and staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), committed to the right to health for all. We strongly believe that addressing the ongoing conflict in Gaza, its victims and the aftermath of war, is an imperative duty of public health (2,3).

The impact on public health of the conflict in Gaza and preceding 18-month siege has included the denial of basic necessities, such as food, water and electricity (4), the destruction of health facilities and public health capacity (5) and an unacceptable number of civilian deaths, including over 300 children (6,7).

We condemn the actions of the Israeli government and military on the basis of its negative impact on human life in Gaza. These actions include the disproportionate use of force and the indiscriminate use of area weapons in a dense civilian area (8), the destruction of civilian infrastructure (8,9), the use of white phosphorus (9) as a chemical weapon (11-15), the obstruction of humanitarian aid (5,12,16,17) and the attack of health care workers, ambulances and health care facilities (6,18). We feel these actions are war crimes and stand with others in this condemnation, including Amnesty International (12) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (4).

We also condemn the actions of Hamas as war crimes, including firing rockets into civilian areas. However, this does not justify war crimes by the Israeli government and military (19).

With others, we call on the following from the Israeli government and Hamas:
1. A complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Gaza, and a continued ceasefire by both sides.
2. A commitment by both sides to abide by the Geneva Conventions in all future actions, including articles pertaining to the responsibility of occupying powers.
3. An independent inquiry into war crimes by both the Israeli military and Hamas and that those who are suspected of war crimes be brought to trial for their actions.
4. Reparations from Israel to the people of Gaza, in compensation for their loss during this conflict.
5. A commitment by the Israeli government to protect the health of the people of Gaza, including addressing the social determinants of their health.

Fernando Galvan, Andrew D. Pinto* and Marianne Tellier, on behalf of more than 270 students, faculty and staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

* Contact: [email protected]

Last edited: February-5-09


References
1. Braunstein R, Faleck D, Stern D. Response to medical students letter of solidarity with Gaza. Lancet 2009; 373: 377-8.
2. MacQueen G, Santa Barbara J. Peacebuilding through health initiatives. BMJ 2000. 321: 293-296.
3. Coupland R. Security, insecurity and health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2007; 85: 181-184.
4. Statement by Prof. Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Dec 27 2008. http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/F1EC67EF7A498A30C125752D005D17F7?opendocument. Accessed Jan 21 2009.
5. Editorial. The medical conditions of Gaza. Lancet 2009; 373: 186.
6. Gilbert M, Fosse E. Inside Gazas Al-Shifa hospital. Lancet 2009; 373: 200-202.
7. UNICEF. Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman regarding the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Jan 14 2009. http://www.unicef.org/emerg/index_47130.html. Accessed: Jan 22 2009.
8. HRW. Israel: Stop shelling crowded Gaza city. Jan 16 2009. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/16/israel-stop-shelling-crowded-gaza-city. Accessed: Jan 21 2009.
9. UNWRA news: commissioner-generals statements. http://www.un.org/unrwa/news/statements/SecGen/2009/OpeningRemarks_20jan09.html. Accessed Jan 21 2009.
10. Federation of American Scientists. White phosphorous fact sheet. http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/bio/factsheets/whitephosphorusfactsheet.html. Accessed: Jan 21 2009.
11. Amnesty International. Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza civilian areas. Jan 19 2009. http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119. Accessed: Jan 20, 2009.
12. Amnesty International. The conflict in Gaza: A briefing on applicable law, investigations, and accountability. 2009. Available at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/007/2009/en/4dd8f595-e64c-11dd-9917-ed717fa5078d/mde150072009en.pdf. Accessed: Jan 21, 2009.
13. Human Rights Watch. Israel: Stop unlawful use of white phosphorus in Gaza. Jan 10 2009. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/01/10/israel-stop-unlawful-use-white-phosphorus-gaza. Accessed: Jan 21 2009.
14. Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons (Protocol III). Geneva, 10 October 1980. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/515?OpenDocument. Accessed: Jan 21, 2009.
15. ICRC. Phosphorous weapons the ICRCs view. Jan 17 2009. http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/weapons-interview-170109. Accessed: Jan 21, 2009.
16. ICRC. Gaza: access to the wounded remains top priority. Jan 7 2009. http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/palestine-update-060109?opendocument. Accessed Jan 21 2009.
17. Worth D et al. Health and human rights in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Lancet 2009; 373; 295-6.
18. PHR-Israel. Shooting at medical personnel testimonies from Gaza. Jan 14 2009. http://www.phr.org.il/phr/article.asp?articleid=685&catid=55&pcat=-1&lang=ENG. Accessed Jan 21 2009.
19. UNHCR. Statement of Ms. Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Ninth Special Session of the Human Rights Council on The Grave Violations of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip. Jan 9 2009. http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/D78B7DAC697D3060C1257539003B5F3A?opendocument. Accessed Jan 21 2009.

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Brigitte KleinBy:
Technology and the InternetIn:
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The Lancet

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