30 Apr 2002
IRCT Denied Access to Israel

The IRCT is on standby to send an urgent mission to the Occupied Territories as soon as the Government of Israel overturns its decision denying access to the IRCT to provide critically needed medical and psychosocial support to Palestinian refugees and released detainees.

mmediately upon his return, Dr Jens Modvig informed the Embassy of Israel in Denmark, and requested action to be taken. As a result, the Israeli Embassy said efforts will now be made by the Israeli Government to lift the ban and allow the IRCT team to return. 

The expert IRCT team, denied entry upon arrival at the Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv at 3.50 am Friday 19 April, comprised the IRCT President, Dr Maria Piniou-Kalli, IRCT Secretary-General, Dr Jens Modvig, IRCT Chief Medical Officer, Dr Stine Amris, Director of Advocacy, Suzi Clark, and Programme Coordinator for the Middle East, Christina Papadopoulou. They were forced within two hours, without luggage or electronic equipment, to return on the same flight after invasive security and body checks. The luggage and electronic equipment, including computers containing confidential information, have now been returned with evidence that the computers were tampered with.

The security personnel refused to speak by mobile to the Danish Embassy in Israel or to the Greek Ambassador to Israel who was at the airport to meet the IRCT delegation. The Israeli security personnel justified a ban on entry as 'there is an ongoing war and organizations such as yours are not welcome'. The ban is a violation of the basic principles of all medical treatment, of the principles of medical neutrality and of the internationally agreed rules under the Geneva Conventions and other human rights instruments applying in times of both conflict and piece. The objective of the mission was to provide support to the rehabilitation centre staff in Gaza and Ramallah and assess the urgent psychosocial and medical needs of traumatized people in the West Bank.

Despite being denied access, the IRCT remains determined to gain access and is continuing to work by distance with its partners in Ramallah and Gaza. It is unacceptable that, in light of the UN Security Council's resolution 1405 which 'emphasized the urgency of access of medical and humanitarian organizations to the Palestinian civilian population', the IRCT team was deported without justification.

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