Closed in and closed out: access to healthcare in the Seam Zone

By EA Ben

The West Bank Separation Barrier severely restricts Palestinian movement and keeps much of the population enclosed in increasingly tight enclaves. Israel state the the barrier is necessary for security, yet it regularly prevents ordinary Palestinians from accessing vital services, often without warning or explanation. Here, EA Ben reports on how Israel’s control of movement in the Seam Zone leaves many without reliable access to healthcare.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) had some good news when they received a phone call from the local UN office, informing them that they were able to once again provide medical relief services within the Seam Zone. They had previously been informed by the Israeli authorities that they would not be given permission to visit the Seam Zone for a month. No reason was given for the rejection of their humanitarian pass.

The Seam Zone is a stretch of land trapped between the Green Line (the internationally recognised border between Israel and Palestine) and the separation barrier. The barrier, built by Israel, deviates significantly from the Green Line into the Palestinian West Bank. This leaves around 57,000 Palestinians trapped in the Seam Zone, often in villages not recognised by Israel. The traditional herding (Bedouin) communities in the area suffer from their children having to cross Israeli military checkpoints to reach their schools on the other side of the barrier, as well as reduced access to resources and services including electricity, fresh water and healthcare.

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