FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Doctors Stopped at the Border

by BILL QUIGLEY

Rafah, Egypt.

Dr. Nicolas Doussis-Rassias and many other volunteer doctors have been waiting in Rafah, Egypt for days. Nicolas and the other physicians came to Rafah to go through the border into Gaza to help the 3000 people wounded by Israeli bombs and heavy weapons.

Rafah is a heavily armed Egyptian border crossing into Gaza, a four hour drive away from Cairo. Sonic booms of high flying jets cut through the stark blue sky. Military drones hover over the border as the air smells of burning.

“Three thousand victims of bombs and gunfire would overwhelm the medical system of New York city,” Nicolas said. “Gaza now has no functioning medical system at all. Most of it has no electricity nor running water. These people are in crisis – they need medical help, so we are here to help them.”

But today, instead of helping the thousands of wounded, Nicolas and other doctors are holding up a hand lettered red and blue banner outside the Egyptian border station saying – Let the Doctors Through!

Why? Doctors of Peace and numerous other doctors from around the world have been prevented from entering Gaza for seven days. They cannot get in to help through Israel nor Egypt.

Nicolasis not an anti-Israeli radical. He is a jolly 49 year old Athens doctor. Father of two children, he is the president of a organization of volunteer Greek physicians called Doctors of Peace. These doctors pay their own way and volunteer to help the victims of war and natural disasters. They have helped out in Latin America with victims of Hurricane Mitch, in Sri Lanka with tsunami victims, and the victims of wars in Lebanon, Serbia, Turkey, and Pakistan.

But the borders of Gaza are sealed off preventing basic humanitarian and medical assistance from entering.

Richard Falk, the UN Special Reporter on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, pointed out the human rights violations of the sealed border: “Israeli actions, specifically the complete sealing off of entry and exit to and from the Gaza Strip, have led to severe shortages of medicine and fuel (as well as food), resulting in the inability of ambulances to respond to the injured, the inability of hospitals to adequately provide medicine or necessary equipment for the injured, and the inability of Gaza’s besieged doctors and other medical workers to sufficiently treat the victims.”

The people of Gaza have been cutoff from basic medical and humanitarian resources for a long time by an ongoing blockade by Israel, but everything is much worse in the last few weeks.

Falk, like many others, also condemned the rocket attacks launched from Gaza against Israel. More than a dozen Israelis have died since the war began, as have more than 800 Gazans. But Falk’s harshest words were reserved for the catastrophic human toll from the Israeli airstrikes and “those counties that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel’s violations of international law.”

Frida Berrigan pointed out that “During the Bush administration Israel has received over $21 billion in U.S. security assistance, including $19 billion in direct military aid. The bulk of Israel’s current arsenal is composed of equipment supplied under U.S. assistance programs. For example, Israel has 226 U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter and attack jets, over 700 M-60 tanks, 6,000 armored personnel carriers, and scores of transport planes, attack helicopters, utility and training aircraft, bombs, and tactical missiles of all kinds.”

Palestinian medical officials say more than half of the 800 dead and 3000 wounded are civilians. Denial of humanitarian and medical assistance to civilian casualties is a clear violation of basic human rights.

The people of Egypt are challenging the denial of medical help for Gaza. Halfway through our drive from Cairo to Rafah, we saw a hundred young Egyptians sitting in the middle of the highway protesting Egypt’s inactions.

After seven days, the border is starting to open a little. The Egyptian Red Crescent was allowed to deliver supplies to the border today and some of the waiting doctors were allowed in. With great show, two dozen Egyptian ambulances were allowed to enter the border area – only to be parked inside to wait for the injured to make it to the border. Two ambulances left Rafah with patients inside.

Doctors of Peace were still not allowed in today. Some physicians, tired from the seven day blockade, have started to return home.

Nicolas is going back to the Rafah border crossing tomorrow to try again. Why? “Because there are 3000 injured people who need help. I am going to keep trying.”

BILL QUIGLEY is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola New Orleans. He is in Egypt as a human rights representative of the National Lawyers Guild, the Society of American Law Professors, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the War Resisters League. Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Audrey Stewart are also in Egypt and contributed to this article. His email is quigley77@gmail.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail