IMA slams British doctors' boycott call

Israel Medical Association expelled from World Medical Association after 18 Palestinian health organizations pushed the move.

surgeons operating 298.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
surgeons operating 298.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Israel Medical Association rejected a call for a boycott of the Israel Medical Association by 130 British physicians and its expulsion from the World Medical Association, which is an umbrella organization of national medical associations that, ironically, is headed by IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar. The doctors, led by Prof. Colin Green, a surgeon at University College London, and Dr. Derek Summerfield, who has consistently attacked Israel in the British Medical Journal, claimed in a letter to The Guardian newspaper: "The IMA has forfeited its right to membership of the international medical community. [It] has a duty to protest about war crimes... but has refused to do so. Appeals to the World Medical Association and the British Medical Association have also been rebuffed," they said. The move followed a call by 18 Palestinian health organizations that appealed to fellow professionals abroad in March to recognize that the IMA "has forfeited its right to membership of the international medical community." The British doctors expressed "grave concern" about the health-related impact of Israeli policy on Palestinian society. "Persistent violations of medical ethics have accompanied Israel's occupation. The Israeli Defense Forces has systematically flouted the fourth Geneva Convention guaranteeing a civilian population unfettered access to medical services," they said. They claimed that instead of being given immunity, medical staff had been killed, with hundreds of ambulances fired upon by Israeli troops, and said the passage of essential medicines like anti-cancer drugs and kidney dialysis fluids were blocked. IMA chairman Blachar rejected all the claims, saying that his association does not serve as an arm of the government. "This is yet another in the series of fantasies in which Mr. Derek Summerfield lives," he said. He noted that dozens of Palestinian ambulances have transported explosives into Israel and that only some of them were caught in time. The IMA, Blachar continued, has always acted to ensure health services to civilians in the territories, and a document prepared by the IMA with legal experts reformulated ethical guidelines for treating civilian populations in areas of confrontation and was adopted as mandatory by the WMA. The IMA suggested that the Palestinian Medical Association sign a joint declaration based on the document, said Blachar, but it refused. Whenever it receives a report from Israel Physicians for Human Rights or other organizations, he continued, the IMA takes action in every case in which the right to medical treatment has allegedly been violated. Blachar added that the Palestinian Authority refused to accept from Israel drugs and dialysis solutions that it was ready to transfer.