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Occupation magazine - Siege, Wall, Checkpoints

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Health organizations denounce dire impact of Israel barrier

February 15, 2005

Israel`s controversial West Bank barrier is blocking some 10,000 chronically ill Palestinians from access to essential healthcare, three leading health organizations charged.

Israel has plans to build a new settlement in the West Bank which could take in illegal Jewish settlers who`ve been evacuated from Gaza, officials said Tuesday.

Medecins du Monde, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel also said more than 100,000 pregnant women could face difficulties in child birth and 130,000 children will no longer be immunized once the 650-kilometer (400-mile) barrier is completed later this year.

`The wall has put Palestinian healthcare at risk, both for patients and medical staff that have difficulties accessing or are denied access to hospitals,` MDM president Francois Jeanson told a Ramallah press conference at the launch of a joint campaign to highlight the impact of the barrier on health.

Yunis al-Khatib, who heads the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, said 200,000 Palestinians living in 22 enclaves are already denied free and open access to healthcare.

More than a third of the West Bank`s 2.3 million strong population will see their freedom of movement badly hampered once the barrier is built, he added.

Ruchama Marton, a psychiatrist by training who heads Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, highlighted the dire psychological effects of the barrier on both Israelis and Palestinians.

`The main goal of the wall is to hide the Palestinians from the Israelis because otherwise it may be possible to identify with their suffering and see them as human beings,` she charged.

She said the barrier, which often juts deep into Palestinian land, is `depriving Palestinians of the freedom of movement which is the essence of life.`

Despite a non-binding International Court of Justice ruling last July that the barrier is illegal, Israel has vowed to complete its construction.
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