"A group of 120 doctors, nurses, medics and medical researchers will hold a protest at Erez border crossing after Israel denied them entry into Gaza for a medical conference with Gazan doctors.
In a statement to the press, the medical professionals, who hail from the U.S., Canada, Holland, Italy and the UK, stated that Israel was engaging in “a deliberate attempt to stop professional communication and exchange between the international medical community and Gaza medical professionals.”
Many of the medical professionals who made the trip to Israel (the only way to enter the besieged Gaza) are mental health practitioners, and were coming to Gaza to offer expertise on the growing epidemic of mental health problems that have arisen in Gaza in the wake of the Israeli siege.
During the last two years of siege, Palestinians in Gaza have faced unemployment rates of near 90%, along with months-long bombardments by Israeli forces, and a chronic shortage of food, fuel and medical supplies. These conditions have created a severe mental health crisis that Palestinian doctors have been unable to address. A recent study found that 96% of Gazans say they are depressed, and nearly half of all schoolchildren find themselves unable to complete school assignments due to less energy, and physical pain.
The international medical professionals were scheduled to participate in a conference entitled “Siege and Mental Health, Walls vs. Bridges”, from the 27th - 28th of October. They had applied for special permits from the Israeli government, but the permits were denied.
Israel has kept the civilian population in Gaza under a siege that violates international human rights law and the Fourth Geneva Convention, keeping the 1.4 million people of Gaza imprisoned inside the small coastal strip, unable to leave, and preventing essential supplies from entering.
The conference participants traveled to Ramallah, in the West Bank, where they will participate in the conference through videoconferencing."