Israeli Physicians for Human Rights was established in 1988 and supports those denied their Human Rights: it sends mobile clinics – as in the case reported here on the emergency in Gaza, together with donate button – to Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territories, works to provide medical care for migrants, prisoners and other marginalised groups. A parallel group, BTselem, provides information on Human Rights abuses was established the following year. BTselem was recently reported in the British Press as having asked IDF (Israel Defence Force) snipers not to fire on unarmed demonstrators as this was against UN law. Meanwhile the IPRH doctors took one of their mobile clinics into Gaza. On April 12th, Guardian letters published a letter from five former IDF snipers both criticising Israel for ordering troops to fire live ammunition at unarmed demonstrators, and warning their fellow snipers that they “will always carry the scenes they witnessed through the sights of their rifles’.
The British press has been primarily pre-occupied with Trump, Korea and Syria and, of course Brexit. Palestine Israel has fallen off the agenda until this most recent attack on unarmed civilians. The Palestinian cause is primarily reported on line by Palestinians and the international solidarity movement. These two harshly realistic letters have come from the growing dissident community in Israel itself – and offer a ray of hope that Israel itself could change and observe international law. The Palestinian BDS movement has changed global consciousness. That elsewhere in the Middle East, one of the poorest countries in the world is under relentless bombing, that outlawed chemical weapons have been used on civilians in another, to say nothing of the deterioration of Iran-Israel relations, are further reminders of the acute dangers of an entire region in armed conflict. Skilled diplomacy might be able to calm this situation down, but such skills are conspicuous by their absence when they are most needed.
Hilary Rose is Visiting Research Professor at LSE and Professor emerita in Social Policy at the University of Bradford.