15 December 2023
In the face of unprecedented challenges, we, the Palestinian health sector unions, stand as a unified voice representing the dedicated health workers across Gaza and the West Bank. Our unions include doctors, nurses, and other professional staff, alongside committed support workers—all tirelessly serving the people of Palestine. Today, we issue a straightforward and urgent call to health care unions worldwide. We seek your solidarity and immediate assistance.
Israel's relentless genocidal campaign in Gaza, recurrent military assaults, and years of siege have inflicted catastrophic damage upon essential health infrastructure. The toll is measured not just in destroyed hospital buildings but in the heartbreaking injuries and loss of lives, including among our fellow doctors, nurses, paramedics, civil defense and other workers who support access to care.
Since the second week of October, Israel has deliberately targeted Gaza’s healthcare infrastructure, leading to the destruction of 22 hospitals , 51 primary healthcare centers, 59 ambulances and the killing of 565 medical workers, including 106 doctors. It has also tightened its siege, denying our members access to basic life-saving equipment and medicine leading to the sector’s complete collapse and the death of thousands of injured and sick. Working to provide care amid this ongoing assault has taken an enormous toll on the mental and physical health of the sector’s workers.
Even before the latest military campaign, Israel's persistent attacks on healthcare facilities and the restriction on the movement of Palestinains in the West Bank and Gaza created barriers for health workers, patients, and caregivers, and impeded patient access to vital medical centers. The combination of repeated military assaults and the fuel, water, and cement shortages resulting from the ongoing Israeli siege had thrown Gaza's hospitals and clinics into a dire situation. They were already shackled, unable to operate, rebuild, import necessary equipment, and compelled to ration fuel to maintain basic operations. Israel also restricted the import of life-saving medicines, vaccines, and essential medical equipment, exacerbating the suffering of our people.
In the face of these formidable challenges, we call upon healthcare unions worldwide to rally in solidarity with the Palestinian health sector. As workers in the sector, we urgently call upon you to organise within your unions and associations to:
1. Call for a Ceasefire and End the Siege: Advocate for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza and the Palestinian people’s right to self determination.
2. End Restrictions: Demand the unconditional opening of the Rafah crossing, free movement for patients, ensuring their access to care in medical centers outside of Gaza. Call for unimpeded import of medicines, vaccines, and vital medical equipment to address the healthcare crisis effectively.
3. Tangible Support: Organize to provide tangible support in the form of donation of medical supplies, equipment, and resources crucial for providing adequate health care to our communities. Encourage unions to commit to donating essential supplies and lobby their governments to ensure these supplies reach and are distributed across Gaza.
4. Mobilizing Healthcare Workers: Call upon your union to sponsor and facilitate members joining international missions aimed at addressing the critical needs in Gaza's devastated medical sector, including by providing mental health support to the sector’s workforce.
5. Commitment to Building Gaza's Medical Sector Capacity: Many medical unions already conduct staff training programs. We urge each union to make a dedicated commitment to extending these programs to include training for healthcare professionals from Gaza.
6. Raise Awareness: Call for health sector unions to raise awareness about the challenges faced by Palestinian health workers. Pass motions with tangible actions to amplify our voices on the international stage and run educational campaigns within your branches.
This call is not merely about union support. It is a plea to the very essence of our profession—the commitment to humanity. We appeal to the compassion that drives us as healthcare professionals and the collective strength inherent in union solidarity.
General Union of Health Service Workers
Palestinian Doctors’ Association - Jerusalem Center
Palestinian Dental Association - Jerusalem Center
Palestinian Pharmacist Syndicate- Jerusalem Center
Palestinian National Nursing and Midwifery Association
Emergency Medical Service Union
Palestinian Respiratory Care Association
Palestinian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists- CAMRT
Palestinian Dietitians Syndicate
Palestinian Medical Technology Association
Health Services Employees’ Association
Palestinian Council Of Optometry and Optics
Palestinian Medical BioPhysics Syndicate
Technical Anesthesia and Resuscitation Association
Union of Health Professions Associations
Palestinian Occupational Therapy Association
Specialist Association for Scientists & Technology of Dental Laboratories Palestine
Palestinian Association of Biotechnology