Humanitarian Aid for Palestinians
A. Medical Aid Project
in the City of Nablus
A preliminary report from the third medical day that took place in Nablus
on May 4, 2002
It was a sunny day in Nablus …
Saturday morning at 7:00: seven doctors, 2 nurses, and a pharmacist started
out from Neve Shalom~ Wahat al Salam for a medical day in Nablus. With the
party were three Jewish and three Arab non-medical people who came along to
help. The Jewish members came specifically to assist with the
negotiations and transfer of medical supplies at the army checkpoint, and then
returned to the village. All members of the party to enter Nablus
The Road: We were unable to obtain ahead of time official permits to
enter Nablus, but decided to proceed anyway. (We had already had to
postpone the trip from the originally planned date, one week before.)
The party would first try to persuade the soldiers at the army
checkpoint to let them through, and, if this failed, to try to reach the city
via the hills and byways.
Reaching the checkpoint, the party found the army had orders to let no
one through. Despite long and difficult negotiations, the only success
was to persuade the soldiers to allow the transfer of medicines and equipment
to the Palestinians who were waiting on the other side. The medical team
would have to seek a different route into Nablus...
The Bypass: The delegation drove to the nearby village of Burin and
joined a group of almost a hundred Palestinians, among them elderly people,
women and children, who were trying to make their way on foot or donkey back
through the hills to Nablus. Some were travelling there since they had heard
the clinics might open.
Treatment on the road: The physicians began to treat some of the people
who were travelling with them, since they were on their way to the clinic
anyway. One woman on a hired donkey brought her baby to the medical team and
was attended to on the spot.
Turned back by Gunfire: While they were proceeding, there came a sudden
volley of gunfire from an Israeli tank about 200 meters away. The tank had
fired in the air, but then, to reinforce the warning, a military jeep came
even closer and fired too, so every few minutes there was shooting from all
around. Everyone tried to hide behind rocks. Local residents were
used to the situation. They were not scared by the shooting, or even very
careful. Some even exchanged black humour about the situation while
their lives were in danger.
Persistent gunfire made it impossible to
continue to the city, and forced everyone to beat a hasty retreat. But
at least, this time, no one was hurt.
The cell phone connection: All this time the team maintained telephone
contact with the mayor of Nablus, who tried by all means to get the group into
the city. He contacted higher ranking army officers and an Arab Knesset
member, and finally the call came: The medical group from NSWAS would be
allowed to pass through the checkpoint!
Entering Nablus: The party found a town in ruins. Every house
was damaged, shelled, or bombed. There had been an IDF attack just the
previous day, and the streets were almost empty, since people were scared to
walk around. Those who did so looked frightened, lost, depressed and
Representatives of voluntary organisations came to meet the group. These
included two graduates of SFP activities who had organized the medical day and
who accompanied the group throughout the afternoon. One of the organizers
showed us her house, half of which had been destroyed in a missile attack.
A thousand patients awaited for the doctors when they arrived to the
clinic. With the time left before sundown, it was possible to treat only
five hundred of these. The most urgent cases were heart patients and
people with high blood pressure who had no medicine, and no money for the
regular visits to the local doctor which cost $1 each time.
Human Contacts: The cooperation between the NSWAS delegation and the
organizers was excellent. From Ms. Dalal Salame a local member of the
Palestinian parliament, to Rassan Shaka’ the mayor of Nablus, to the doctors,
nurses and local pharmacist, everyone tried to help make the most of this day.
The Next Step: the first thing that was promised was that all the
necessary medicines that were missing would arrive soon. (It can never
be known in advance which medicines and in what quantity, will be required.)
The second thing we must do is collect money for a second medical day in
Nablus, and soon! The critical time is now. The destruction, the
suffering and the depression are so great that we should not wait. We were
asked by all the Palestinians who were involved in this modest project to
The minimum cost of one day is $ 5000. If we can collect more, we
will bring with us besides, medicines, baby milk and food.
Please find ways to help us!
B. Ideas on how to help...
Many good ideas have reached us from people around the
world who have been involved in finding ways to collect money, medicine or
equipment for humanitarian causes. We discussed some of these in our HAP
committee meeting last week, and would like to share them with you here.
Israel: Physicians accumulate samples of medicines sent
to them by pharmaceutical companies. Many physicians approached by us have
readily donated such medicines to the project, and Arab doctors have been particularly
willing to empty their drawers. This has already proven extremely helpful,
and has enabled us to fill many prescriptions. Anyone who has contact
with physicians can try this approach.
Germany: Pharmaceutical companies are not permitted to
sell medicines whose expiry date is too close. Having no use for these, they are happy, when approached, to donate large quantities for
The same principle applies to old or obsolete medical
equipment found in clinics. Medical care staff are often willing to
contribute such equipment, which is very valuable for Palestinian clinics
which otherwise would not be able to afford any equipment at all.
USA: People with a common interest in supporting
humanitarian projects can organise small grassroots initiatives. Meetings of
friends and possible supporters can open many hearts and pockets and get
people working together.