Assistance and formation for the health of Palestinian women and refugees in the West Bank and in Israel

Territori Palestinesi

The Context

Israel. Since its establishment, in 1948, the political management of the migratory flows in Israel has had the objective of slowing down the entries and of hampering the settlement of persons coming from the African and Arab countries. For that reason Israel systematically denies the recognition of political asylum to forced migrants coming from the Horn of Africa, particularly from Eritrea and Sudan, although they are in blatant need of international protection. Since 2012, as a consequence of promulgation of the law concerning the prevention of the irregular entries, whoever crosses irregularly the border of Israel can be stopped in “administrative detention” up to a maximum of three years, including vulnerable groups such as children and victims of smuggling or trafficking and torture. Until today approximately 55,000 applicants for the refugee status are counted in Israel. Until today approximately 55,000 asylum seekers are presentin Israel. Amongst them there are about 35,000 people from Eritrea and 15,000 from Sudan. On the basis of the amendment of the citizenship law dated back to 2003, asylum seekers do not enjoy social rights, they are not allowed to work and they cannot benefit of national health care service if they are not recognized as urgent cases.

West Bank. West Bank. The West Bank was supposed to be the Palestinian state ( including Gaza Strip) according to the United Nations’ division plan of 1947, but the Israeli troops started the occupation of the Palestinian territories soon after the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, taking the total control of the area during the Six-Day War in 1967. Towards the mid-nineties some cities of the West Bank and of Gaza Strip passed under the control of Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as a consequence of the “Oslo Agreements”. However, most part of the West Bank was occupied again as a consequence of the Second Intifada in September 2000.
In 2002 Israel began the construction of a separation wall (security fence) in the West Bank with the official reason of hampering the access of Palestinian terrorists into Israeli territory. Along its whole length, this barrier consists of a set of walls, trenches and electronic doors. Furthermore the barrier has been judged as a severe violation of Human Rights and of international humanitarian rights by the UN International Court of Justice and by the International Commission of Jurists . In the West Bank the access to health care services has been strongly compromised by the worsening of the socio-political and humanitarian situation, the effects of the Israeli occupation and of the increased dependence on external help. Given the current situation, the circumstances of developing an independent Palestinian health care system are difficult to be created. The restrictions of freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli occupation cause serious problems to the Palestinian population. Not only they concern the access of the patients to the health care services, but they are also related to the lack of training opportunities for medical staff and the difficulty of establishing of an efficient health system. The health indicators reveal the critical situation in which the Palestinian health system is: the infant mortality is six times higher than the one of Israel while the maternal mortality is even 20 times higher..

The project

The main objective of the project is promoting and defending health rights of Palestinian women, children and refugees who are resident in the West Bank and in Israel, as well as of favoring a process of cooperation and dialogue among Israeli and Palestinian medical staff. The project aims to support the Palestinian health system and at the same time to reduce the barriers between the Israeli and Palestinian population, to express concrete solidarity, to denounce political measures that prevent the proper functioning of the health system and the access to health care services, to involve Israeli citizens to cooperate for a real change. In this sense a fundamental aspect of the action concerns the symbolic and concrete meaning of the cooperation among Israeli and Palestinian medical staff not only in the health sector but also in terms of efforts for building peace and promoting justice in this conflict area. The sustainability of the project is even due to the fact of enduring the process of dialogue and cooperation among Israelis and Palestinians.
In this regard, the foreseen activities are as following: realisation of an Open Clinic and mobile clinics for women’s health; organization of events promoting health and fundamental rights; , organisation of specialized mobile clinics (gynecology, pediatrics) for women’s and children’s health; training courses for young Palestinian doctors in gynecological-obstetric and pediatric sector ; realizationof two seminars in Italy on inequality in health in the Cccupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel.
The project is carried out in partnership with an Israeli Non-Governmental Organization Physicians for Human Rights Israel – PHR and a Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization Palestinian Medical Relief Society – PMRS. The local organizations have been cooperating together for several years and they developed a sound experience in the defense of Human Rights and in the promotion of dialogue in conflict area . The present project aims to give a systemic overview of the cooperation process where the health issue is link to themes such as human rights and peace.. Moreover, the intervention has the purpose of enhancing women empowerment both in methodology aspects (mobile clinics for women managed by women) and in training sector through topics concerning health and fundamental rights.


Infant mortality (per 1,000 born alive)
18,8 – In Israel 3,7
Maternal mortality (per 100,000 births)
28 – In Israel 7
Life expectancy at birth (years)
73 – In Israel 83
Human Development Index
0,69; position 107/182
0,89; position 19 in Israel
GDP per capita ($)
2.250 $- in Israel 31.200$

The Beneficiary population
Direct: 11.000 women and 10.000 children living in the villages and the cities in Azun (district of Kalkilia), Deir Balut (district of Salfeet), Deir Ibze and Zaffa (district of Ramallah), Mount Ebal (district of Nablus), Rbayeah (district of Bethlehem Est), Zibad (district of Tulkarem). Beneficiaries of the project are 20 young Palestinian doctors who benefit from educational, theoretical and practical events within the gynaecological and paediatrics area.
Indirect: The remaining population of the villages and of the city quarters for a total of approximately 10.000 persons and 500 Israeli and Palestinian medical staff (doctors, obstetricians, hospital attendants, pharmacists and so on) who establish through the project, in direct or indirect way, relations of dialogue and collaboration.
In the field: Physicians for Human Rights – Israel; Palestinian Medical Relief Society
National: Medici per i Diritti Umani; Municipality of San Casciano Val di Pesa; AOUCareggi
2015: 92.678,00 euro
Tavola Valdese, Regione Toscana

Chiesa Valdese