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Home arrow Blog arrow March 2009 arrow March 6, 2009

March 6, 2009
March 6, 2009: More on and from The Lancet: Withdraws Gaza Article, Author Responds
Source: You Tube/CBS NEWS
Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, tells Sky News that the number of civilians injured and killed in Gaza proves that Israel is deliberately attacking the population. He states:
"This is all out war on a civilian population"
I posted the above on Jan. 6, 2009

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P U L S E

Lancet Withdraws Gaza Article, Author Responds

On 2 February 2009, The Lancet Medical Journal’s Global Health Network online published Dr Swee Ang and Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta’s ‘The Wounds of Gaza’, first published here at PULSE.

Read more...

It introduced the article by stating:

Two Surgeons from the UK, Dr Ghassan Abu Sittah and Dr Swee Ang, managed to get into Gaza during the Israeli invasion. Here they describe their experiences, share their views, and conclude that the people of Gaza are extremely vulnerable and defenseless in the event of another attack.


On 2 March, the Journal removed the article (though The Lancet Student still has it), stating: “We have taken down the blog post The Wounds of Gaza because of factual inaccuracies.”

No specific faults or amendments to the alleged inaccuracies are suggested. The reader comments, overwhelmingly in support, remain posted. A letter penned by four israelis (surprise, surprise!) that objects to the article was published on February 18. Our friend Dr Swee responds to this development and elaborates on the figures.

Dr Swee Ang on reporting from Palestine and Lebanon

Many of us are afraid to put numbers down because the pro-Israel Lobby will inundate us with emails and complaints. This has gone to the extent that only figures sanctioned by the Israelis are credible. Everything else is viewed as suspect!

Over the last twenty-six and a half years, I have taken many blows over this kind of issue. The only question I ask myself when writing is - when is the version according to the victims going to be articulated? The people of Gaza knew that 5,000 were killed in the Khan Younis massacre in 1956; 100,000 gone missing in 1967 of which 35,000 were murdered - just because they cannot go to the Sinai and take pictures, or dig up the mass graves, does not mean we refuse to let them state their case.

I looked at Northern Gaza - how often have I driven down Sala -Uddin Road in 1988 and 1989. I remember every turn and corner- I know the citrus orchards, the farms and the homes. Often I would stop my ambulance to give a ride to the farm workers and they in return would give me freshly picked lemons and oranges. I now see it completely laid waste by Israeli explosives like the nuclear holocaust of Hiroshima, and yet we were called liars when we put forward the figure of one and a half million tons of explosives. We have seen apartment blocks not only reduced to rubble but incinerated - how many kilotons of explosives are responsible for this kind of damage?

The Lancet Global Health Network withdrawing ‘The Wounds of Gaza’ is not a problem at all. The wonder is how it even got to be published in the first instance.

My book From Beirut to Jerusalem, when first published in 1989, was reprinted hard back and then paperback within 2 months, as it was sold out on publication, and again sold out as soon as reprinted. Then Tom Friedman came out with a book with exactly the same title half a year later and by the same publisher. My book was withdrawn from the shelves. It went out of print for many years.

But the truth has to come out. Most times at great inconvenience to some of us as we well know.

I just want you to know that I am not afraid to believe the Palestinians. It is a scandal that the extent of the Khan Younis massacre had not come to light for all these years. It is a scandal that what happened in the Six Day War was not published. The intimidation to silence witnesses has to stop. We cannot allow the case to be stated only by the perpetrators of the killings.

Like the Palestinians in Gaza - I am also not afraid. My witness of Gaza counts. So does your witness. We should not be afraid of saying what the Palestinians told us. They are the ones whose families were killed, who bear the wounds of violence, who are dispossessed and persecuted. Their voices must be heard.


Dr Swee Ang on the explosives used in Gaza

The actual tonnage of the explosives dropped on Gaza can only be accurately known to the IDF themselves. So other figures can only be estimates. However some of us have many years of experience looking at bombed out countries.

Over the 22 days, Gaza was intensely bombed from land, air and sea. The bombs dropped from the air are large, and most of them are more than a ton on average. In the south the bombs used to destroy the tunnels and structures around them are large heavy bombs.

Of the 21,000 buildings destroyed, 4000 of them are completely demolished. Some believe that these are by small nuclear fission bombs. However there is no proof and it is impossible to tell, though the effect of all structures, especially concrete, being incinerated, would suggest that the size of these bombs are of the order of kilotons—whether they are conventional explosives or otherwise. If you were to look at the effect of the atom bomb on Hiroshima (about 15 - 20 kilotons), you would see the incineration of concrete similar to that of that seen in these 4,000 buildings. These 4,000 buildings would have been destroyed by 4,000 kilotons of explosives. The other 17,000 destroyed buildings are the result of bombs of single figure tonnage judging from the kind of destruction. Apart from bombs being dropped on buildings reducing them to rubble, bombs were also dropped on fields, orchards, farms and roads.

We do not know enough of the explosive values of DIME to comment and hence have not speculated on it. They have been used in Gaza. But from what is commonly known about them, they are very heavy bombs, more so than conventional.

As to the person who queried the “million and a half tons of explosives dropped in 22 days” as such an amount would have obliterated Gaza [a question put forward to www.womenforpalestine.org, a site which carried Dr Ang’s article]—we can safely answer him that the whole of Northern Gaza has indeed been obliterated - he or she is most welcome to see for themselves! The whole stretch of Northern Gaza has been converted to a complete wasteland. In the South again vast stretches of agricultural areas have also been demolished.

The figure of one and a half million tons of explosives in our view is a conservative estimate. Those who are sceptical about it need to see it for themselves.
Dr Swee Ang on the figure of 35,000 political prisoners being executed during the 1967 Six Day war

The number 35,000 was from the International Co-operation Department (ICD) of Gaza. Within the first 2 hours of the attack on Egypt, 11,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed. But we are not talking about them, as they would be those killed in action.

After the first 2 hours till the end of the 6-Day War, about 100,000 Egyptian and Palestinian combatants were missing and never found. These included many young men in Gaza who had joined the Egyptians and the early PLA (of Nasser) to fight the Israelis. There are at least 2 mass graves in El-Arish on the edge of the Sinai desert, and the Israelis themselves had admitted to killing those captured, but had not admitted to killing so many. The Gaza information had stated 35,000 executed, but we had not asked them the whereabouts of the remaining 65,000. Many of the missing still have surviving relatives living in Gaza. The names of those executed could be traced from the ICD in Gaza. 1967 is a long time ago, and I do not see what advantage it is to the ICD in Gaza to make up these figures.

As many of you will be aware, a similar situation occurred with the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, where Palestinian sources believed that 3,000 were killed and IDF only admitted to over 300. Bayan Al-Hout had compiled at least one and a half thousand names to date, and the list is still increasing. We still do not know the whereabouts of the men murdered in the Stadium, now that some soldiers of the Phalange have admitted to executing people there. The bodies buried in Martyr’s Square were from within the camp itself, and not those abducted to the Stadium.

http://pulsemedia.org/2009/03/04/lancet-withdraws-gaza-article/

March 5, 2009 PM: Thanks to Sam Bahour, an American Palestinian family oriented business man in Ramallah for fowarding the following. Related Link at the end.

Please take a moment and thank The Lancet's Editor, Richard Horton ( ), for featuring the Palestinian heatlhcare issues.


Looking for health in an unhealthy reality,
Sam


Comment
Mar 05, 2009
The occupied Palestinian territory: peace, justice, and health
Richard Horton
The distances seem short. From Jerusalem to Ramallah is only a few kilometres; from Gaza City in the north of the Gaza Strip to Rafah in the south, 30 km; from Ramallah to Gaza, 70 km. One can drive the length of the West Bank in just a few hours. Yet for those living outside the occupied Palestinian territory, the distances—to peace and justice—seem impossibly vast. The impression conveyed through western media is of a land in perpetual war, a people drenched in hatred, aggression, and violence.

Comment
Mar 05, 2009
Palestinian refugees outside the occupied Palestinian territory
Guido Sabatinelli, Stefania Pace-Shanklin, Flavia Riccardo, Yousef Shahin
The 1948 Arab–Israeli war not only marked a crucial moment in the history of Palestine, but generated the largest refugee population in the world, thus affecting all its neighbouring countries. Of 4·6 million Palestinians with refugee status, 2·8 million reside outside the occupied Palestinian territory, in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. They are assisted by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees, which is their main health provider and therefore the most accurate source of information on their health status.


Comment
Mar 05, 2009
Lancet Steering Group on the occupied Palestinian territory
Iain Chalmers, Jennifer Leaning, Harry S Shannon, Huda Zurayk
Rita Giacaman (founding director of the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, Birzeit, occupied Palestinian territory) and Richard Horton (Editor, The Lancet) invited us early in 2007 to join them in a steering group for a Series of reports1–5 about health and health services in the occupied Palestinian territory. Who are we and what did we do?


Comment
Mar 05, 2009
Keys to health: justice, sovereignty, and self-determination
Andrea Becker, Katherine Al Ju'beh, Graham Watt
In this Lancet Series on the occupied Palestinian territory,1–5 a team of nearly 40 Palestinian and international academics present evidence both to the scientific community and to the powers that have determined the health status of Palestinians living in the occupied territory of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip.


Comment
Mar 05, 2009
Teaching child health in the occupied Palestinian territory
Tony Waterston, Samia Halileh, Jumana Odeh, Mary Rudolf, Patricia Hamilton
Since 1999, the UK's Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has been working to establish a sustainable teaching programme1 in child health in the occupied Palestinian territory. The aim is to upgrade the knowledge and skills of doctors and nurses who work with children. This Series in The Lancet describes the serious and in some ways intractable health issues in the Palestinian territory.2–6


Comment
Mar 05, 2009
Peace and health in the occupied Palestinian territory
Jimmy Carter
32 years ago, one of my highest priorities as President of the USA was to bring peace to the Middle East. For 13 days, I led intense negotiations between Israel and Egypt, resulting in the Camp David Accords in 1978.1 There were two agreements, ratified by an overwhelming vote of the Israeli Knesset. One was a peace treaty that was signed 6 months later between Egypt and Israel, and which has been meticulously honoured by both sides. The other was a commitment by Israel to withdraw its political and military forces from Palestinian territory and grant the Palestinians full autonomy over their own affairs.


Series
Mar 05, 2009
Health status and health services in the occupied Palestinian territory
Rita Giacaman, Rana Khatib, Luay Shabaneh, Asad Ramlawi, Belgacem Sabri, Guido Sabatinelli, Marwan Khawaja, Tony Laurance
We describe the demographic characteristics, health status, and health services of the Palestinian population living in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory, and the way they have been modified by 60 years of continuing war conditions and 40 years of Israeli military occupation. Although health, literacy, and education currently have a higher standard in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory than they have in several Arab countries, 52% of families (40% in the West Bank and 74% in the Gaza Strip) were living below the poverty line of US$3·15 per person per day in 2007.


Series
Mar 05, 2009
Maternal and child health in the occupied Palestinian territory
Hanan F Abdul Rahim, Laura Wick, Samia Halileh, Sahar Hassan-Bitar, Hafedh Chekir, Graham Watt, Marwan Khawaja
The Countdown to 2015 intervention coverage indicators in the occupied Palestinian territory are similar to those of other Arab countries, although there are gaps in continuity and quality of services across the continuum of the perinatal period. Since the mid 1990s, however, access to maternity facilities has become increasingly unpredictable. Mortality rates for infants (age =1 year) and children younger than 5 years have changed little, and the prevalence of stunting in children has increased.


Series
Mar 05, 2009
Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, and cancer in the occupied Palestinian territory
Abdullatif Husseini, Niveen ME Abu-Rmeileh, Nahed Mikki, Tarik M Ramahi, Heidar Abu Ghosh, Nadim Barghuthi, Mohammad Khalili, Espen Bjertness, Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen, Jak Jervell
Heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer are the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the occupied Palestinian territory, resulting in a high direct cost of care, high indirect cost in loss of production, and much societal stress. The rates of the classic risk factors for atherosclerotic disease—namely, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, tobacco smoking, and dyslipidaemia—are high and similar to those in neighbouring countries. The urbanisation and continuing nutritional change from a healthy Mediterranean diet to an increasingly western-style diet is associated with reduced activity, obesity, and a loss of the protective effect of the traditional diet.


Series
Mar 05, 2009
Health as human security in the occupied Palestinian territory
Rajaie Batniji, Yoke Rabaia, Viet Nguyen–Gillham, Rita Giacaman, Eyad Sarraj, Raija–Leena Punamaki, Hana Saab, Will Boyce
We describe the threats to survival, development, and wellbeing in the occupied Palestinian territory using human security as a framework. Palestinian security has deteriorated rapidly since 2000. More than 6000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military, with more than 1300 killed in the Gaza Strip during 22 days of aerial and ground attacks ending in January, 2009. Israeli destruction and control of infrastructure has severely restricted fuel supplies and access to water and sanitation.


Series
Mar 05, 2009
The health-care system: an assessment and reform agenda
Awad Mataria, Rana Khatib, Cam Donaldson, Thomas Bossert, David J Hunter, Fahed Alsayed, Jean-Paul Moatti


SOURCE: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/onlinefirst 


Related Link:

February 18, 2009: The Wounds of Gaza from The Lancet; and I recall mine for Gaza from 2005
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