Press Release: As reports of attacks on medical and municipal staff in Gaza mount, Al Mezan condemns such violence, as well as remarks on desperation amid appalling humanitarian backdrop – Occupied Palestinian Territory
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights expresses concern at the increase in reported cases of workplace violence against employees of health and municipal services throughout the Gaza Strip and stresses the need to investigate further such incidents and to hold those responsible to account. This trend is a sign of desperation among the population, which is suffering appalling humanitarian conditions and economic stress.
According to monitoring and field documentation from Al Mezan, the past week was marked by the following workplace assaults:
At around 11:00 p.m. on Friday, June 18, 2021, Doctor Abeer Yousef Tabash, a 27-year-old emergency doctor, was assaulted by relatives of a patient in the emergency room of Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. Dr Tabash told Al Mezan:
A patient in her thirties arrived in the emergency room accompanied by four people pushing her hospital bed. The patient was placed in the designated patient ward and divided by hospital curtains. I told the patient’s relatives to wait outside and allowed a companion to enter the room as I was about to examine her. I was, however, extremely surprised when one of my family members aggressively grabbed my arm and pushed me back while yelling at me and asking my name. He shouted angrily, “you killed my brother”. I was completely shocked and told her to stay away from me, but her relative also tried to assault me while verbally assaulting me. A woman accompanying the patient and these men grabbed my arms and started to shake me. A police officer arrived at the scene. I remember seeing him jostle the patient’s relatives as I rushed to the on-call room. I filed a complaint about the attack with the police. I was later informed that one of the patient’s family members had passed away earlier on Wednesday. I was then at night, but I was not the supervising doctor who looked after the case of the deceased.
In another incident, a representative of the Gaza Municipality told Al Mezan that the director of the municipality’s coordination and supervision department, engineer Khalil Mohammed Al-Shaqra, 59, was assaulted on Friday morning. June 2021, as he tried to stop a group of men who stole tiles and stones at the intersection of Al-Wehda and Abdel Qader streets. The theft is said to have caused further damage to the streets, which were severely damaged during the latest Israeli offensive against Gaza.
At around 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday June 16, 2021, two other municipal workers, Ahmed Hussein Al-Natour, 37, and Mohammed Majdi Al-Helo, 36, were assaulted at their workplace while monitoring the implementation. restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in public. Al-Helo sustained moderate bruises, while the window of the municipal vehicle they were driving was shattered.
While strongly condemning all incidents of revenge and violence in the workplace, Al Mezan also expresses grave concern at the recurrence of such incidents in health care and municipal work contexts. Any assault on health professionals and municipal workers can not only weaken their morale, but also seriously hamper the delivery of vital services in these areas. Therefore, Al Mezan calls on the relevant Palestinian authorities to investigate the incidents, take serious measures to prevent their recurrence and bring the perpetrators to justice.
These attacks are another indicator of the collapse of the rule of law and the desperation of the population, who live in appalling humanitarian conditions and are emerging from a devastating 11-day bombardment centered on attacks on civilians, their property. and infrastructure vital for their survival. Israel’s tightened closure and blockade measures also put pressure on ordinary Gazans by undermining the health sector and public works and services.