Consistently condemns Israeli military reprisals against terrorists, but does not denounce the Palestinian terrorist attacks
Opposing “the subjugation of medical care to political considerations of any kind,” Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) was established in 1988 by Israeli and Palestinian doctors as “a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the right to health care [for Palestinians] in Israel and in territories under Israel's effective control.” “It was apparent,” explains PHR-I, “that human rights violations in the form of systematic and official denial of access to medical care, the intentional infliction of bodily injury, torture and neglect of prisoners, grossly substandard medical care and facilities in the occupied territories and East Jerusalem, administrative detention and solitary confinement were issues that demanded attention. Therefore, PHR-Israel was founded to address these very issues.”
PHR-I has adopted a consistently biased stance against Israel, prompting the Israel Medical Association to sever all ties with the organization. For instance, PHR-I regularly condemns "the Israeli Occupation," drawing no moral distinction between Palestinian terrorist attacks targeting civilians, and Israeli military reprisals targeting those terrorists. Moreover, the organization contends that "the State of Israel has no authority to erect checkpoints or roadblocks as a form of total control of the movement of Palestinian residents within the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
PHR-I also opposes Israel's security fence, constructed in the West Bank for the purpose of preventing Palestinian terrorists from reaching Israeli population centers. On January 29, 2004, PHR-I took part in a demonstration "tour" (organized by the NGO Ta'ayush) in the area of Abu Dis, East Jerusalem. According to PHR-I's press release of February 1, 2004, (titled "PHR-Israel tour of the Jerusalem Stranglehold"), “The wall is just the latest step in Israel's policy of separating the East Jerusalem hospitals from the communities they serve."
Denunciations of Israeli policy constitute the dominant theme of PHR-I literature. An August 16, 2004 report on the Rafah Crossing (in the Gaza Strip) criticizes restrictions (which it terms "collective punishment") on Palestinians attempting to enter Israel through this point. However, PHR-I makes no attempt to define this concept, or to distinguish it from legitimate and necessary security measures. Similarly, a May 2004 report titled "The Bureaucracy of Occupation," produced jointly with Machsom Watch, impugns the District Coordination Offices responsible for issuing travel permits to the Palestinian population. Without mentioning Palestinian terrorism, the report states that "[t]he denial of freedom of movement is a human rights violation."
PHR-I literature also asserts that Israeli soldiers deliberately shoot at Palestinian civilians despite the existence of clear rules governing the use of live fire and a well-defined legal system to deal with any abuses of those regulations. For example, an August 31, 2004 press statement claims: "According to information given ... by Palestinian medical organizations in Gaza ... the soldiers suddenly, and with no prior warning, opened fire" on a Palestinian ambulance.
In an October 3, 2004 statement, PHR-I condemned IDF operations in the northern Gaza Strip, virtually ignoring the fact that the operation was intended to prevent the firing of Qassam missiles into Israel.