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Healthcare Workers for Palestine Demand ‘Permanent Ceasefire’ at Harvard Medical School Protest

Twenty Longwood affiliates called on the University to divest from holdings in the West Bank during a Friday protest organized by in part by Healthcare Workers for Palestine.
Twenty Longwood affiliates called on the University to divest from holdings in the West Bank during a Friday protest organized by in part by Healthcare Workers for Palestine. By Veronica H. Paulus
By Veronica H. Paulus and Akshaya Ravi, Crimson Staff Writers

BOSTON — Twenty Longwood affiliates gathered outside Harvard Medical School Friday evening to protest the University’s “illegal Israeli settlements” and Israel’s treatment of healthcare workers in Gaza.

During the protest — organized in part by Healthcare Workers for Palestine — HMS affiliates shared a statement demanding a permanent ceasefire, access to humanitarian aid, release of healthcare workers, and the University’s divestment from holdings in the West Bank, according to a flier disseminated outside the school this afternoon.

“The silence of our medical institutions has been just unbelievable,” said Hibah Osman, an assistant professor at HMS. “We should be standing up for our colleagues to support our colleagues in healthcare, and patients, and all the displaced people who are housing in hospitals” in Gaza.

A spokesperson for HMS declined to comment on the protest.

The protest echoed similar sentiments expressed during a recent protest on the HMS lawn on Match Day in response to a speech from the president of the American Medical Association for the event. At the same time, other HMS professors have organized trips to Israel with the goal of building relationships with Israeli colleagues amid lingering campus tensions over the war in Gaza.

In December, billionaire philanthropist Leonard V. Blavatnik — whose donation renamed HMS’ fundamental and translational biomedical research arm, the Blavatnik Institute — paused donations over the University’s handling of antisemitism on campus following former President Claudine Gay’s controversial testimony in Congress.

According to Osman, professors have been trying to speak with HMS Dean George Q. Daley ’82 since November.

“He has refused to meet with us. So he’s not even acknowledging our requests for meetings,” Osman said. “This is what we’re up against.”

“It’s been just a torture for me watching all of this at home while being in a country that funds the genocide and while working with healthcare institutions that are silent about this genocide,” said Dana A. Hassneiah, a fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who has family in Gaza.

Sofiat E. Atoba, an internal medicine resident at Beth Israel, said that it will take decades for Gaza to rebuild as hospitals and other critical infrastructure are being destroyed during the war.

“We’ve seen children starving,” Atoba said. “The effects of famine can remain even decades after the initial exposure.”

Peter C. Kenny, a retired pediatrician at Mass General Brigham and HMS graduate, called for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

“There’s only one way out of this situation, and that’s peace for every side, for every child. Every child is important,” he said.

“Israeli or Palestinian — it just doesn’t matter. This has to end,” Kenny added.

—Staff writer Veronica H. Paulus can be reached at veronica.paulus@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @VeronicaHPaulus.

—Staff writer Akshaya Ravi can be reached at akshaya.ravi@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @akshayaravi22.

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