Press release: Iceland’s Foreign Minister Condemns Israel’s Blocking of Prosthetic Aid to Gaza at U.N. General Assembly
O.K. Prosthetics is an Icelandic not-for-profit company. Our vision is to provide good prosthetic solutions for amputees and training for local leg makers in low income countries and post-war zones around the world
Icelandic Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson has expressed his outrage over Israeli officials’ decision to block a shipment of prosthetics from Iceland to be brought to the Gaza Strip. These strongly worded remarks were made in the minister’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday, 24 September:
“The Icelandic nation is deeply sympathetic towards the plight of the Palestinians, held in occupation, by an oppressing power. And as I speak, we have Icelandic humanitarian workers being held up in Israel, trying to bring prosthetic limbs to people in Gaza. People that urgently need assistance. This is not acceptable to Iceland. This is not acceptable to the world. This is inhuman, unjust. We urge Israel not to prevent humanitarian assistance from reaching the needy in Gaza.”
The shipment is part of a continuation of a project to bring high quality prosthetics to Gaza along with three experts from Iceland, Sweden and South Africa. Fully sponsored by O.K. Prosthetics, the experts will produce the prosthetics and train Gaza locals for follow-up procedures. Two representatives of the NGO Association Iceland-Palestine which sponsors the components and materials for the prosthetics are also part of the mission.
An identical project was successfully completed in Gaza in September 2009 by the same parties with no problems. This year’s mission follows over nine months of planning and acquiring necessary permits. As permits to bring the prosthetics into Gaza had already been acquired by organizers from IDF officials, the blocking of the shipment came as a shock to those involved. Israeli custom officials now withholds the shipment and it has not been released despite of high-level diplomatic efforts by the Icelandic Foreign Ministry and assistance from Iceland’s Consulate in Tel Aviv.
The delegation will return to Ben-Gurion airport tomorrow, September 26, to demand the return of the prosthetics. Nineteen amputees await already scheduled service from the mission in Gaza City.