Mrs. Duisenberg said the athmosphere at the airport wat utterly grim, and she gave the following statement to the press:
“We the Medical Fact Finding Mission Palestine, declare that we have not only been informed, but have now even experienced, that the Israeli state is conducting a policy of deliberate obstruction of both foreign and Palestinian medical workers.
The Israeli government has decided not to allow our medical-humanitarian team through customs at Ben Gurion Airport. This way, it effectively sabotages our research mission in the Palestinian territories. In medical care, the continuous re-evaluation of health care facilities is one of the cornerstones in building a healthy society. As medical doctors and health workers, it is our concern to see systems of medical care functioning smoothly, unhindered by any blockades or obstructions.
The facts and figures that we have obtained from various sources, including the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, indicate that the facts, concerning the continuing Israeli damage to Palestinian health care, are dramatic. Also, the press release issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross on June 17th 2003, clearly implicates that among other breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention, the occupation forces are engaged in actively blocking access to medical care for Palestinians.
The goal of our mission was to research whether there was evidence of deliberate obstruction of medical care. However, the Israeli government has made it impossible for us to investigate this issue.
It is time for the international community to intervene, by demanding from the United Nations to send a team of UN medical inspectors into the West Bank and Gaza, and to take over our urgent and necessary mission, that the Israeli government has prevented us from undertaking.
We intend to pursue all legal mechanisms to address the violations of humanitarian law, in order to ensure that those responsible for the violations of international humanitarian law will be held accountable.”
The delegation consists of Gretta Duisenberg, chairperson of Stop the Occupation, Tariq Shadid, general surgeon, and Henri van de Vall, internist from the Netherlands. The Belgian doctors are Prof. Guido van Ham, internist, Colette Moulaert, paediatrician, and Sofie Blancke, general and tropical medicine.