Gaza’s Defenders: Attorney Raji Sourani and Dr. Eyad Sarraj

Gaza’s foremost human rights lawyer, Raji Sourani is director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.  Once the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for human rights (1991), he has twice been named as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience (1985 and 1988).

Born to a family with deep roots in Gaza, Sourani went to Egypt and graduated from the University of Alexandria in 1977.  He soon began practicing law and pursuing human rights violators.  He hasn’t stopped since.

In a December 20, 2010 UK Guardian commentary about obtaining justice for the Gazan victims of Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead, Sourani wrote:  “Behind the closed doors of the Gaza Strip, it is our shared humanity that continues to link us to the outside world. We demand that our human rights be respected and protected. We demand that the international community stay silent no longer, that it exerts its influence in the name of fundamental freedoms and justice.”

Along the same lines of being a tireless advocate for justice in Gaza, there is internationally-recognized psychiatrist and human rights advocate Eyad Sarraj.   The founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, Dr. Sarraj appeared before the UN in 2009 to discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorders among the children after Operation Cast Lead.

Born in Beersheba, Palestine, his family fled to the Gaza Strip after the 1948 war.  Growing up in a refugee camp, he witnessed firsthand the importance of human rights and mental health rights.  When he was older, he received his medical degree in Egypt and then went on to study psychiatry at the University of London’s Institute of Psychiatry.

An award recipient of the Physicians for Human Rights (1997), Dr. Sarraj is the President of Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace International — a network of Palestinian, Israeli, and International faculty, and students, working in for an end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and just peace.

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