If a rubber bullet pierces the eye of a child in the eastern part of Jerusalem by Sheikh Jarrah and a woman is thrown into a “skunk water”, a drugstore that smells like rotten eggs and toilets, this is a clear example of violence and degrading Palestinians. But the oppression of Palestine and the persecution of Israel is not the only threat.
There are a number of exceptions and discrimination that dominate the lives of Palestinians and that – such as daily violence – affect their health and well-being. All of them need feedback from organizations like Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontieres, or MSF).
However, when MSF hits a wound, supports a patient with COVID-19, provides psychiatric treatment, or receives depressed patients in the emergency room, we do not support patients politically. We are struggling with social stigma and discrimination, which do not have a cure.
Colonial settlement, which has led to the rapid migration of Palestinians and the rapid growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has been taking place over a period of more than 70 years of military occupation, setting up colonies to relocate locals. This has been the case in Palestine since 1948 and the capture of Palestinians from their homeland around Sheikh Jarrah is a recent example of this.
Palestinians are displaced and coerced and live in solitary confinement where they are subject to the laws that guarantee permanent deportation. The oppressive laws governing the lives of Palestinians do not apply to those who live in the mountains above them, or to houses that have been seized nearby. This is racism in real time.
Aid agencies such as MSF have difficulty addressing the root causes of aid problems. We are an emergency organization, an NGO ambulance. This makes us unfit to deal with the economic and political crises whose purpose is to empower the rulers. But it is from this ambulance that we see how colonialism and discrimination affect the health of our patients and the need for our work.
For example, a few months ago, MSF medical teams observed how Israelis were vaccinated when Palestinians living in their settlements were deliberately evicted. On a daily basis, our patient’s access to health care is hampered by illumination, barriers, legitimacy, discrimination, economic collapse, and the damage that results from permanent residence.
To this day, our humanitarian efforts are not needed in Israel because even if rockets are fired at civilians, people have access to health and safety in their own country.
Discrimination crime is defined as “inhumane acts designed to establish and maintain one form of government of any kind other than any other group of people and to oppress them”. Israel today, by its very nature, is the one that rules alone or has the power to control the Palestinians from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea; its principles for the Palestinian people undoubtedly lead to discrimination.
Israeli apartheid laws have seized, besieged, murdered, maimed, imprisoned and handed over orphans to Palestine, with the help of other Western governments.
It prohibits Palestinians from traveling on “Israeli-only” roads and barring them from crossing hunting grounds without permission. It often results in the detention of children and the abuse of prisoners. They support the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. It protects armed Israeli civilians and supports the use of non-racial violence against Palestine.
This has been criticized by the Palestinians and endorsed by government agencies, law enforcement agencies, human rights organizations and many others. They quarrel only with those who have done wrong and who are helping them.
Last week, bombs continued to engulf Gaza, killing at least 198 people, including several MSF staff members. MSF Hospital has been damaged and ambulances are unable to pass bomb craters on the road to al-Shifa General Hospital. Elsewhere in Palestine, protesters continue to be shot, beaten and shot with rubber bullets.
MSF will continue to address the scars of this violence, but the cure for the Palestinian problems only comes with the end of colonialism and apartheid.
The views expressed in this article are for the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor of Al Jazeera.