Reviews PERSONAL VIEWS

Palestinian health: the truth, the lies, and the statistics

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1110 (Published 04 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1110
  1. Simon M Fellerman, principal in general practice
  1. Leeds

    Anumber of articles relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians have appeared in medical journals recently. They all follow the same pattern, presenting uncorroborated statistics, condemning Israel for supposedly attacking Palestinian health services, and, most disconcerting of all, questioning Israel's basic right to exist.

    Derek Summerfield's article (BMJ 2004;329: 924) is a sterling example of this genre. Space prohibits a detailed response to all his claims; I shall therefore limit my response to four specific points.

    The first is his use of statistics. Summerfield ignores the fact that Israeli casualties are overwhelmingly civilian (www.ict.org.il/) and that many of the aggressors are on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority, which is heavily financed by the European Union (http://eufunding.org/accountability/NewFPCReport.html). Summerfield's selective application of numbers would not be acceptable in medical research, so why does he present them to BMJ readers?

    Secondly, Summerfield states that Israeli “soldiers are routinely authorised to shoot to kill children.” He offers no proof for this. Indeed he cannot, because no such authorisation has been given. Israeli army procedure is in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory. One may note that Summerfield's Palestinian friends have …

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