Here’s something to take your mind off Brexit.
You’ll have heard of Dr Swee Ang. She is the first female Orthopaedic Consultant appointed to St Bartholomew (‘Barts’) and the Royal London Hospitals.
In the 1980s and 1990s Dr Swee worked as trauma and orthopaedics consultant in the refugee camps of Lebanon and later for the United Nations in Gaza, and the World Health Organisation in the West Bank and Gaza. She is Founder and Patron of the British charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
She also treated the victims of the Pakistan (Kashmir) earthquake, and as consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon operated on and looked after the victims of the 7 July 2005 suicide bombing at the Royal London Hospital.
Dr Swee is co-author of War Surgery and Acute Care of the War Wounded; she also wrote From Beirut to Jerusalem documenting her experience in the Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon and Gaza.
Last summer she was aboard the Al-Awda sailing to Gaza with urgently medical supplies when the vessel was violently assaulted and hijacked in international waters by our so-called friend and ally which, we’re repeatedly told, shares our values and whose enemies are our enemies.
The Al-Awda was dragged to an Israeli port and her passengers and crew were roughed up (some seriously injured) and abused, thrown in an Israeli jail and had their possessions and money stolen. The precious cargo, as far as we can ascertain, never reached the desperate wounded.
Dr Swee has just emailed:
“The UN Commission for Human Rights will be concluding its investigation on the shooting of thousands of Palestinian civilians demonstrating within the borders of Gaza. At least 189 were killed (more now) and thousands shot with live ammunitions – with loss of limbs and still needing multiple surgeries if they were to keep their legs and arms. It is estimated that with conventional limb salvaging surgeries at least £39 million has to be found to prevent further amputations (figures put out by MAP).
“Last year the UK abstained from supporting the UN conducting such an investigation. However it went ahead and I was fortunate enough to attend the meeting at Amnesty International two days ago to hear the personal testimonies of Dr Tarek Loubani who was shot on 14 May 2018, and Dr Mahmoud Matar the head of the Limb Reconstruction Service in Gaza.
They will be testifying to the UN Commissioner coming Monday in Geneva. There is an urgent request for us to write to Jeremy Hunt [Foreign Secretary] with copy to our local MP asking the UK Government to adopt the findings and recommendations of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. In fact the concern is that UK might vote against it since last year we abstained.
Even if you are not a UK national but are Palestinians you have the right to email him on behalf of your people. Please also ask your friends to support the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.
“Thank you all and God bless, Swee.”
Wounds “the size of a fist” causing lifelong disability
According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) who operate in Gaza, the Israelis have been using ‘dum-dum’ type rounds that cause wounds of “unusual severity”. This sort of ammunition is understood to be outlawed in warfare. Last year MSF surgeons in Gaza reported “devastating gunshot wounds” among hundreds of people injured during the protests, the huge majority – mainly young men, but also some women and children – having unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities.
MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist. “Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone,” said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Head of Mission of MSF in Palestine. “These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.”
She hadn’t seen these kind of injuries before. The wounds appeared to be caused by ammunition with an expanding ‘butterfly’ effect. “Mass lifelong disability is now the prospect for young Gazans who merely gathered in unarmed protest”
Writing in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) the Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Gaza, Dr Nafiz Abu-Shaban, said that the hundreds of high energy compound tibial fractures from Israeli live fire are the most difficult of all open fractures to treat. They may require between 5 and 7 surgical procedures, each operation taking 3-6 hours. “Even with state-of-the-art reconstruction, healing takes 1-2 years.
Most of these patients will develop osteomyelitis. A steadily increasing toll of secondary amputations is inevitable. They will also need intensive rehabilitation, but the only rehabilitation hospital in Gaza was destroyed by Israeli bombing in 2014….”
UK favours “whitewash toolkit” instead
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution to set up an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to investigate all violations of humanitarian and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, with particular focus on recent events in Gaza. The resolution was passed with only two states opposing (the USA and another of Israel’s poodles, Australia), 29 in favour and 14 abstentions. The UK was among the abstainers.
Trying to explain its pathetic stance, the UK Mission in Geneva called the resolution “partial and unhelpfully unbalanced” for not explicitly demanding an investigation into the action of non-state actors such as Hamas. But why should it? Hamas is not the invader, illegal occupier, aggressor or blockader. It governs the besieged Gaza Strip as best it can after being democratically elected in 2006.
The UK Government then called on Israel to “make clear its intentions and carry out what must be a transparent inquiry into the IDF’s conduct at the border fence and to demonstrate how this will achieve a sufficient level of independence.” In other words, investigate itself.
However, Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem condemned the already-announced internal Israeli military probe as “part of the whitewashing toolkit”. The British Government was criticised in parliament for its limp-wristed attitude and reminded of Israel’s self-exoneration over the killing of four boys playing on a beach during its 2014 military offensive on Gaza.
The preamble to the UNHRC resolution states the reasons for a proper investigation brilliantly. It’s worth repeating here….
- Convinced that the lack of accountability for violations of international law reinforces a culture of impunity, leading to a recurrence of violations and seriously endangering international peace,
- Noting the systematic failure by Israel to carry out genuine investigations in an impartial, independent, prompt and effective way, as required by international law, into the violence and offences against Palestinians by the occupying forces, and to establish judicial accountability for its actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
- Emphasizing the obligations of Israel as the occupying Power to ensure the safety, well-being and protection of the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
- Emphasizing also that the intentional targeting of civilians and other protected persons in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and poses a threat to international peace and security,
- Recognizing the importance of the right to life and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association to the full enjoyment of all human rights…
Despite all that, Theresa May and Boris Johnson (Foreign Secretary at the time) still couldn’t bring themselves to back the UN resolution.
In recent years this country has so abandoned it moral compass that failing to support a perfectly legitimate investigation into the Israeli military’s brutal behaviour towards the Palestinians they have robbed and abused and murdered for 70 years — a scenario we engineered — is unsurprising.
But many see no difference between the racist thugs who command the Israeli army and the degenerate responsible for the New Zealand mosque massacre. Let us hope Her Majesty’s Government eventually discovers its backbone and adopts the report and findings of the UN Human Rights Council lest we all die of shame.
Your constituent Stuart Littlewood