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About the Author

Ahmed ElAmin
Journalist (Brussels, Belgium)

I started my life as a hack covering development projects for street children in Brazil; ended up teaching at a high school in Botswana; barged around the Kalahari reporting on local development projects for a magazine and also covered business stories for AFP; wandered around Southern Africa, Europe, and India; worked for a newspaper on the health and Native Canadian beat in Canada before heading off to Bermuda to cover finance and the reinsurance market; co-founded an online publication on offshore finance while living in a village of 700 people in Languedoc; drank a lot of wine; moved to Montpellier to cover the food and drink industry when the boom and the publication collapsed; drank a lot more wine covering that sector in France and Spain; and somehow ended up in Brussels working for a private communications company. At least the beer is good.


Aid and the status quo of occupation

Published 02nd July 2010 - 2 comments - 3383 views -

The Lancet, a leading medical journal, has followed up on its series of studies on health in the occupied Palestinian territories, first published in March, 2009. The current issue has four articles/commentaries as outlined below.  (For an explanation of the map on the front, see below).

 Aid supports the status quo

Aid to the occupied Palestinian territories serves to “normalise an unacceptable situation”, write Angelo Stefanini of The University of Bologna, Italy, and Enrico Pavignani, an Independent Public Health Consultant Bologna, Italy.

As an example, the financing of highly localised health facilities to mitigate the delays caused by Israeli closures, which allow the closures to continue.

They conclude: "Aid to Palestinians looks like an inappropriate political tool, provided to limit the damage created by a political problem that donor countries dare not address."

They point out that the International Court of Justice has ruled that states are under an obligation not to render aid that might maintain a situation created by occupation.

“In view of the fact that 45% of aid goes to Israel and the remaining 55% is divided between waste on occupation measures and actual project benefits, aid subsidises the Israeli expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory….Generous and unconditional assistance to the health sector has led to punishing levels of donor dependency: 42% of the health expenditure is financed by donors.”

A move towards an approach based on human rights and international humanitarian law is long overdue, they advise. Read the abstract of the Lancet article here.

Impact of 2009 Israel attack on Gaza Strip

A representative sample of 3017 households (1% of total households within the Gaza Strip) were visited, with a response rate of 97%. Almost a third of the sample population was displaced during the war, while 39% of these 3,017 homes were completely (1%) or partly (38%) destroyed. Three quarters of these homes had yet to be repaired at the end of the study (by August 29, 2009). A total of 137 (0.7%) of household members had injuries from various causes, of which three-quarters of these were caused by the war; and 4% of 321 disabilities were caused by the attack. More than seven in ten homes were reliant on food aid.

A number of crucial needs were identified by the survey: home repair was urgently needed by 58% of households with homes damaged during the war; a source of livelihood* by 2249 (75%); and utilities (water, electricity, cooking gas) were urgently needed by 56%.

The authors conclude: "The Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip has had a negative effect on the quality of life of adults in the general population, and has resulted in high levels of reported distress, human insecurity, and social suffering. The siege on this region continues to be the main obstacle for improvement of the living conditions and quality of life of the population, and is a priority for action." Read the full abstract here.

Health effects of 2009 Israeli incursion

The Dirty War Index, which assesses the effects of conflict on populations, was found to be 20 for women and 16 for children, on a score of 1-100. For all outcomes, quality of life was found to be low for the study population compared with US and Turkish general populations. Physical, emotional, mental, and functional indicators were all worsened in those injured. Injuries not caused by bombs or shell fragments, and those that were not severe were associated with substantially improved quality of life.

The researchers conclude by calling for more mental health facilities to care for those injured by the war, so that the impact of their injuries can be reduced. Read the abstract of the Lancet article here.

1 in 4 Palestinian children goes without breakfast

In 2006, 10% of children (<5 years) had chronic malnutrition (stunting—i.e., low height for age), 1% had acute malnutrition (wasting—i.e., low weight for height), and 3% were underweight (low weight for age). Iron-deficiency anaemia is a public health problem, affecting 23% of children.

I don’t know what to make about this study as it is ambiguous, despite the fact that the authors say:  "Undernutrition, and high proportions of overweight and obesity might be attributable to children's poor eating habits and consumption of unhealthy food and snacks. Undernutrition and overweight represent the double burden of malnutrition in the oPt (occupied Palestinian territories)."

While the figures are bad, they should compare their results with the average in the underdeveloped world and with the developed world to put the figures into context. Read the abstract of the Lancet article here

Explanation of image used on front page....

Wiping Palestinians off the map

 No Palestine

 2009 map of “Israel” supplied by the Israel Tourism (, with the West Bank missing: If they don’t exist, then there is no problem.

 The real map

 Palestine shrinking

By Palestine Monitor (


Other articles on this topic:

From the New York Times (5 July 2010)

Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank
HaYovel is one of many groups in the United States using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanence in the Israeli-occupied territories — effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.

The result is a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.

A New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade. The money goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law. But it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.



Category: Aid | Tags:


  • Luan Galani on 04th July 2010:

    An insightful post! I loved it.

    About the fact that aid supports the status quo, it is now so palpably clear, true.

    But, and there is always a but, when you say the Palestinian areas are missing in the map, I think it is not entirely true. If you take a look-see, you can get to read ‘Gaza Strip’ in pink, right? Or have I missed everything up?

    Thanks for delivering it.

  • Ahmed ElAmin on 05th July 2010:

    Yep. That’s the Gaza strip you see. I have corrected. Thanks.

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