Palestinians protest Israeli medical visit
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Ramallah medical staff say meeting promoted "normalization."
A tour of the Palestine Medical Compound in Ramallah by Israeli physicians last Thursday triggered a wave of protests in the city and other parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
During the visit, the Israeli physicians were accompanied by Palestinian Authority Health Minister Fathi Abu Mughli and one of the medical center’s directors, Ahmed Bitawi.
Workers at the compound claimed that the Israelis were IDF officers from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.
They also said that the Israeli delegation was accompanied by soldiers and IDF vehicles.
Many Palestinians used Facebook and other social media to post angry comments about the visit. Most of the anger was directed against the PA for allowing Israelis to enter the medical compound.
A statement issued by the workers accused the PA of engaging in “normalization” with Israel by allowing the delegation to tour the compound in Ramallah.
Doctors and nurses working there were instructed to meet IDF officers inside the compound last Thursday, according to the statement.
“We strongly condemn the visit, which is a form of normalization [with Israel] – something that we are opposed to,” the employees said.
They called on the PA leadership to hold accountable those behind the visit of the Israelis.
Dr. Mutasem Muhaisen, who is affiliated with Fatah and works at the compound, described the decision to host the Israeli team as irresponsible. The presence of Israelis in the compound was an offense to the memory of Palestinian “martyrs” who died in clashes with IDF soldiers over the past few decades, he said.
Abu Mughli, in an interview with the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, denied that the Israelis were IDF officers and soldiers.
An Israeli medical delegation visited the compound and a military clinic in Ramallah last Thursday at the request of the Israeli authorities, he said.
Abu Mughli said that his ministry did not object to such visits and noted that Palestinian patients were being transferred to Israeli hospitals on a regular basis.
He added that the PA was prepared in return to provide medical services to Israelis. “We are not against meetings with Israeli doctors,” he stressed.
Bitawi also defended the visit, saying it was part of ongoing cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the medical field.
“The visit has nothing to with political issues,” he said. “Doctors have a purely humanitarian mission.”
In the Gaza Strip, Basem Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas government, condemned the visit of the Israelis to the medical compound, arguing that it was part of the continued security coordination between Israel and the PA.