Israeli doctors perform heart surgery on a baby from Gaza, at Wolfson Hospital near Tel Aviv .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A World Health Organization resolution stating that Israel violates Palestinians’ health rights is “a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism,” Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid wrote to WHO director-general Dr. Margaret Chan Thursday.
The letter came after the agency singled Israel out for condemnation, passing a resolution at the UN organization’s annual assembly in Geneva Wednesday against its operations in the area of Palestinian hospitals, and claiming Israel violates health rights on the Golan Heights. The resolution passed 104-4 with six abstentions.
As Lapid pointed out, Palestinian terrorists often operate in and around hospitals, such as in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge when Shifa Hospital in Gaza City was used to fire rockets into Israel, targeting civilians. At the same time, Israel set up a field hospital to treat injured Palestinian civilians.
“The blame here lies with those who abuse medical facilities and turn them into military facilities.
It is Hamas and Islamic Jihad who should be the focus of your condemnation,” Lapid wrote.
Israel also often treats those injured in the Syrian civil war, bringing them into Israel through the Golan Heights.
“Across the border, in Syria, hundreds of thousands have been murdered... Barrel bombs are dropped from the sky onto hospitals and doctors are routinely targeted as part of a campaign to target civilian populations,” Lapid wrote. “While the carnage in Syria has continued unabated and terrorists commit unspeakable atrocities across the region, most notably in Iraq, Israel has been quietly working to treat injured Syrians. They are brought to the border, collected by the Israel Defense Forces and taken to Israeli hospitals where they are given first-rate medical care at no expense. “These actions are purely humanitarian, just because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Yesh Atid accused the WHO of allowing itself “to be used by those who seek to alienate the State of Israel through a campaign of delegitimization. This orchestrated campaign against the sole Jewish state in the world is a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.”
“Your organization veered away from its mandate and waded into the campaign to delegitimize Israel. In between important discussions on the Zika virus, shortages in medical equipment and vaccine action plans, the WHO highlighted Israel... for so called abuses,” Lapid wrote.
Lapid urged the WHO to repeal the resolution against Israel as soon as possible and, instead, “focus on combating real health crises across the world.”
Watchdog organization UN Watch said the WHO was acting in the long tradition of European anti-Semitism.
“By scapegoating the Jewish state for all the world’s health problems, just as medieval Europe once accused the Jews of poisoning the wells, the EU aids and abets the UN and its World Health Organization to betray the cause of humanity and the very principles upon which they were founded,” UN Watch Director- General Hillel Neuer wrote.
Rather than “set[ting] the record straight and [taking] a stand against such base demonization of the Jewish state… Britain, France, Germany and all other EU states joined the jackals by voting for today’s resolution,” he added.
“Yet, the EU was silent. Instead, it justified its vote by claiming in its speech that today’s resolution was ‘technical.’ This is the old Brussels-Ramallah wink-and-nod game: the PLO submits a more inflammatory text at the beginning, knowing it will be revised later to allow the Europeans to pretend they achieved a ‘balanced’ text. Israel is then expected to celebrate that it has been lynched with a lighter rope.”
Neuer also pointed out that by focusing on Israel, “the beacon of the entire region on promoting and respecting the health rights of all people,” the WHO robbed itself of limited time and resources to focus on actual health problems around the world.
The decision targeting only Israel came after 30 health and humanitarian organizations released a report this week citing 19 countries in which attacks destroyed health facilities, killing medical workers and patients, including Colombia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Thailand. The report claimed Israel obstructed medical services for Palestinians.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman denounced the Palestinian representative at the WHO for politicizing the assembly after the latter called Israel “a country of occupation [that] harms Palestinian medical institutions in Gaza and elsewhere.”
Litzman responded: “The WHO is a professional organization, and I am very disappointed that the Palestinian representative has used this forum for a political attack against my country... The WHO is not a political organization, therefore, I will speak on global, regional and Israeli health.”Judy Siegel contributed to this report