In 1999 Law Number 4 was put into place concerning the rights of Palestinians with disabilities. Article 2 of this law states, “The disabled have the right to enjoy a free life, dignified living, and various services in a manner equal to that of the other citizens.”
While this law was created with the intention of promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, it is questioned as to whether or not it has been enforced. Palestinians with disabilities have yet to see noticeable changes in their treatment. Accessibility to public buildings and transportation is a constant challenge.
Many Palestinians bore physical scars in result of the First Intifada. Many endured permanent disabilities as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To address the needs of those who suffered permanent physical disabilities, Paralympic Sports were introduced to Palestine.
What is the Paralympic Movement?
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) was created in 1989 as a non-profit organization with the intention to develop sports opportunities for all people with impairment from a beginner to elite level. This movement provides incredible stories and performances that teach the value of acceptance and appreciation for people with impairment. It helps bring social awareness, which contributes to the development of a more equitable society with respect and equal opportunities for all individuals.
According Aljazeera the Palestinian Paralympic Committee (PPC) states the growing need of Olympic sports in Palestine is caused by the rise of people suffering from disabilities related to Israeli Attacks.
The conflict has had a great impact on Paralympics in Palestine. According to the Paralympic Media Centre in 2012 the PPC was exposed to heavy shelling in the Gaza Strip. This destroyed the building and infrastructure of Palestine’s Paralympic headquarters. Unfortunately, access to sports facilities continues to be an enormous challenge for disabled athletes in Palestine.
Secretary General of the Palestinian Paralympic Committee, Ehsan Idkaidek, believes gaining participation in Paralympic sports is a challenge when the rights of disabled people ‘are not considered a priority by decision-makers’.
“There is no political will among the decision makers to create real change for people with disabilities. There is no adapted public transport for us, access to buildings and shops is often impossible, and sports is certainly not seen as a priority.”
Although on-going conflict has slowed the growth of Paralympic Sport in the West Bank, the Palestinian Paralympic Committee is staying positive and working to change this.
Why do you think Paralympic sports are important in areas like Palestine?