GSS forcing Palestinian medical students to provide information in order to work

The GSS Must Cease Coercion of Palestinians Medical Students to Provide Information as a Condition for Granting them Permits to Practice in East Jerusalem Hospitals

(Haifa, Israel) On 13 June 2010, Adalah Attorney Haneen Naamnih, in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, sent a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and the Attorney General demanding that they issue orders to the General Security Service (GSS or “Shabak”) to stop coercing Palestinian medical students studying at Al Quds University in Abu Dis and conditioning the granting of permits to them to enter East Jerusalem to practice in hospitals on collaborating with the Israeli security services.

Palestinian students from other areas of the West Bank studying medicine and paramedical professions are obliged to obtain a permit to enter and work in East Jerusalem so that they can undertake their internships in the six Palestinian hospitals located there, such as al-Makassed, St. Joseph's and others. This practical training is a requirement for the medical students in order to obtain a Palestinian license to practice the profession; certain aspects of training are only available from the East Jerusalem hospitals. Cooperation between the Al Quds University Faculty of Medicine and Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem has existed for years, and many of the medical faculty members at the University also work in these hospitals.

Based on complaints received by PHR-I and the article published by journalist Amira Hass in Haaretz on 12 May 2010, the letter stressed that the GSS is terrorizing the students who apply for the permits. The GSS is using psychological and sometimes even physical pressure in order to recruit them to the Israeli security service, despite their clear opposition. The students who turned to PHR-I had entry permits and had worked in hospitals in East Jerusalem for many years. After they were called by the GSS and refused to work for them, their permits were suddenly withdrawn without any credible justification.

In the letter, Attorney Naamnih argued that requiring the medical students to collaborate with the GSS in order to gain entry to occupied East Jerusalem is a deplorable policy that violates the students' rights to dignity and liberty. Preventing their entry also deprives them of the opportunity of completing their medical studies and practicing the profession of their choice, which violates their right to education and employment. Together, these appalling tactics will affect the health rights of all the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), where there is a dire need to develop and strengthen the health system and the quantity and quality of available health care.

International humanitarian law strictly prohibits the occupying power from demanding collaboration from the occupied protected persons. These acts of the GSS are also prohibited under the Israeli criminal law, as they may constitute “extortion under threat”.  

Letter (Hebrew)