Israel Bans Mental Health Doctors from Gaza

Dozens of mental health specialists on Sunday protested Israel’s closure of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip after they were prevented from entering to attend a conference there.

Around 70 demonstrators waved signs denouncing the Israeli closure of the Palestinian territory, with slogans such as "Let Gaza live" and "Israel: a medical conference is a security threat?"

Doctors from several countries had hoped to attend a conference on mental health in the impoverished coastal territory hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO), but Israeli authorities did not allow them to enter.

The conference, which will be held on Monday with doctors in the West Bank town of Ramallah participating via video conferencing, will focus on the impact of the Israeli blockade on the mental health of Gaza residents.

The Israeli military rejected the doctors’ accusations in a statement, saying it would allow medics to enter Gaza to provide care but not to attend a conference in a "territory controlled by terrorists."

Israel has sealed the territory of 1.5 million people off from all but limited humanitarian aid since the Islamist Hamas movement seized power there in June 2007.

(Agencies via

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