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Public health implications of the Israel-Hamas War

Date: Nov 03 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

 “APHA has a long history of assuring all people have the opportunity to live a safe and healthy life and believes that violence of any kind is neither the moral nor the just way to settle disputes. Recognizing the massive public health consequences of war, APHA adopted a policy statement in November 2009 on The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics, and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War.

This policy statement demonstrates our staunch support for peaceful ways to resolve our differences and points out the devastating impact of war. This is especially important in relation to the overwhelming and unacceptable physical and psychological harm inflicted on noncombatants, especially on children, the elderly and those with disabilities. The infrastructure needed for basic human needs, including food, shelter, clothing, personal safety, and sanitation, are often impacted in ways that exacerbate innocent human suffering. 

The Israel-Hamas war has yet again brought into sharp focus the vicious reality of armed conflict. APHA condemns the brutal assault by Hamas and recognizes Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. We believe that we all have a responsibility to treat each other with respect and a human right to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors. The Palestinian and Israeli people both have the right to peace and happiness in a homeland. 

As public health professionals, we must focus on the most fundamental concern – the significant and growing humanitarian crisis arising from the limited access to basic human necessities. We are left feeling that no description of this situation can accurately capture the human suffering currently happening in the region.

Our thoughts are with those innocents who have lost children, parents and other family members, friends and other loved ones during this crisis. They, and countless others impacted by the violence and threat of violence in the region, will need all our support to recover from what they are currently experiencing and will continue to experience in the months and years ahead. We know that their lives and health will be altered forever, which is why we need to stop the spread of this violence and act to protect the health of all noncombatants in the region. We also need to address the global hate that is spreading around the world, including here in the U.S., where threats and acts of verbal and physical violence are increasing. 

We have watched from the sidelines long enough, hoping for a rapid end to these hostilities. We now call on all parties directly and indirectly involved to find a quick and just end to the violence, ensure the safe release of all hostages, protect all health and aid workers, safeguard health facilities and ensure prompt and sufficient humanitarian aid.” 

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.