A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Palestinian Children's Health, Israel and White Phosphorus: Part I

JURIST Guest Columnist Mais Qandeel, an LL.M. Graduate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is the author of an eight-part series that explores which party should bear the legal responsibility of providing medical and health care for Palestinian children affected by Israel's use of white phosphorus bombs. This series will explore Palestinian history, the effects of white phosphorus use, the health care situation in the Gaza Strip, the protection of the international human rights and humanitarian law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Acknowledging the fundamentally contested nature of the history of Jewish and Palestinians inhabitants of the historical Palestine, Qandeel takes the perspective that Israel is an occupying power. In the first part of this series, Qandeel gives an introduction about her research and discusses the history of the Palestinian territories...

Thousands of articles have focused on global health, and, more specifically, have discussed the universal right to health care. International human rights law instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights state that all people have the right to life and the right to health care. The Convention on the Rights of the Child indicates a special protection for children and recognizes their rights to welfare and life. Moreover, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations mandate military authorities to provide support to hostile states, including health care.

However, the right to health care for children living in the Gaza Strip is particularly complicated. The history of the Gaza Strip must be acknowledged in order to understand the controversy and complexity surrounding the area. Great Britain occupied Palestine from 1917 to 1948. On May 15, 1948, Great Britain left Palestine and Israel became a new state. Since 1948, Israel has occupied Palestine.

Shortly after the establishment of Israel, the Arab-Israeli War broke out, resulting in Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. As a result, almost 750,000 [PDF] Palestinians were expelled and became refugees. Israel displaced 77 percent of Palestinian land and Palestine was effectively wiped off the map. In 1967, Israel took control of the rest of the Palestinian territories. In 1994, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was established in parts of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. Until now, the PNA has had inadequate control of the divided parts of Palestine. Approximately 4,168,860 Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — commonly known as the "Palestinian Territories." Most of the population of the territories are Palestinian Arabs along with a small number of foreigners. There are also significant populations of Israeli settlers in the West Bank. In fact, more than 214,000 [PDF] Jewish settlers, who have immigrated from around the world, live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council (UNSC) have all stated that Israel is an occupying power on Palestinian land. The Supreme Court of Israel has even admitted that Israel is an occupying power of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and therefore the Geneva Conventions are applicable.

Since 2006, the Gaza Strip has been blockaded. From December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, Israel began a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip under the pretext that Palestinian armed groups had launched rockets into southern Israel. Israel used white phosphorus bombs in response to these rockets, but it used the ordinance against innocent civilians. The airstrikes destroyed homes, killed hundreds and injured thousands. The Palestinian economy has been affected by the Israeli blockade and human rights have been violated. An insufficient supply of fuel for electricity has had a negative impact on health care, water access and agriculture — all of which has increased the level of poverty. As a result of all of this, the health care situation for Palestinian children has deteriorated.

Part II of this series provides an explanation of the white phosphorus bombs used in the Israeli airstrikes and their affect on children. It will also explore the nature of children's health care and the status of health facilities in the Palestinian Territories.

Mais Qandeel received her bachelor's degree in law from Al-Quds University in Palestine, in 2006 and her L.L.M. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2012. She worked for a year as a trainee lawyer at the Arab Bank, was a legal advisor for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and also worked as a partner at the Ahmad Qandeel Law Office. Qandeel is the recipient of a Palestinian Rule of Law Program Fellowship, which is administered by the Open Society Foundation

Suggested citation: Mais Qandeel, Analysis of Palestinian Children's Health as a Result of Israeli Actions: Part I, JURIST - Dateline, Aug. 2, 2012, http://jurist.org/dateline/2012/07/mais-qandeel-palestinian-health.php.

This article was prepared for publication by Michael Micsky, an assistant editor of JURIST's student commentary service. Please direct any questions or comments to him at studentcommentary@jurist.org.

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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