Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish (“The Gaza Doctor”) proposed that Canada bring 100 badly injured Palestinian children to Canada for urgent medical treatment. His proposal was quickly supported by Ontario hospitals, health care workers and even the Ontario government. But permission has been denied by the Harper government, saying its “too risky”. But risky for whom? Read the rest of the post here.
A brilliant idea for emergency humanitarian action in Gaza has been put forward by a Palestinian gynecologist now living in Toronto. Dr. Abuelaish became a well-known figure in Canada as the author of “I shall not Hate”, his plea for reconciliation in Israel/Palestine after he lost 3 daughters to Israeli bombs in 2009.
Dr. Abuelaish launched the rescue idea in a powerful opinion piece in the Toronto Star.
His idea was to bring 100 children to Ontario for emergency medical treatment because most of the hospitals in Gaza have been badly damaged.
His idea rapidly gained support in the Ontario medical establishment.
Alex Munter, President of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, said that CHEO is “ready to help any child it can”. The McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, the Kingston General Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and the London Health Sciences Centre have also offered to treat the children.
The humanitarian initiative also got the green light from the Ontario government. Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins issued a statement saying the province has a “moral responsibility” to help the injured children. (Before entering politics, Hoskins was president of War Child Canada, a charity that helps children in war zones.)
But so far, the Harper government has refused to give the necessary permits.
“It’s too risky to transport injured children”, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Adam Hodge coldly told Global News via email.
But what exactly is the “risk”? That they will somehow threaten Canadian security? Surely that seems far-fetched. That they will die en route ? That might happen, but on the other hand, what will happen to them if they don’t get medical attention?
It seems more likely that the “risk” is that the publicity that would surround the arrival of 100 severely wounded Palestinian children would lead to a swelling of sympathy among Canadians and an increased demand to lift the blockade of Gaza, which even President Obama has now agreed cannot last forever.
Harper’s decision seems to indicate that his government not only approves of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, but wants to continue it after the bombing is over – even to the extent of denying medical aid to children in dire need of attention.
Is it too late?
But Dr. Abuelaish is persistent and has not given up. The need is still there. And the support of the medical profession is still there.
Readers who are so moved might want to write to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to ask him to rethink this apparently heartless decision. You might want to send copies to NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar and to Liberal Marc Garneau. Their email addresses are listed for your convenience. I also include the email address of Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a Liberal MP, and a medical doctor who recently visited Israel and visited an Israeli hospital. She did not visit Gaza nor talk to any Palestinians.