Intended for healthcare professionals


Eyad Rajab el-Sarraj

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 04 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1764
  1. Sophie Arie, London
  1. sarie{at}

Palestinian psychiatrist, rights campaigner, and self styled diplomat


In late 2008, when Israel began a bombing campaign of Gaza in response to years of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants, Eyad el-Sarraj could have stayed with his wife and their 3 year old son in the safety and comfort of their Geneva home. He was 65 and had been diagnosed as having leukaemia two years earlier, but he chose to be in the Gaza Strip during three of the most violent weeks in its recent history.

El-Sarraj, a Palestinian who trained in Egypt and Britain, spent much of his career living and working in the poverty and turmoil of Gaza—despite having British citizenship, which could have allowed him a more comfortable life. He began to practise in Gaza in the 1980s and is thought to have been the first psychiatrist to do so. In 1990 he established the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme—a non-governmental organisation providing clinical support to a society traumatised by the first Intifada, but with no culture of talking …

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