A Heart for Peace is a project run by Israeli doctors in Hadassah in co-operation with Palestinian run hospitals and health clinics, as well as the United Nations, focusing on heart diseases that young Palestinian children suffer from. 20% of the children treated were from Gaza and 80% from Palestinian-administered areas of the West Bank.
There is a particular emphasis on heart disease due to the fact that one out of every two Arab marriages is consanguineous and thus there is an increased rate of heart malfunction compared to the general population.
Since its inception Professor Azaria JJT Rein, head of paediatric cardiology at Hadassah and cofounder of A Heart for Peace stated that no child has ever been stopped from crossing the border into Israel, Rein also states that in emergencies the trip can be organised within two and a half hours.
A Heart for Peace has trained five Palestinian doctors to perform echocardiograms and/or cauterizations. In addition, 197 GPs have also been taught how to do early screenings. According to Professor Rein the price of each child’s operation costs $15,000.
As well as treating the children within Israel, A Heart for Peace also set up paediatric cardiology clinics in Ramallah and Hebron, which are now autonomous.
Speaking of changing perceptions, Professor Rein stated that “There are at least 600 families who look at us now not as ‘bad Israelis’ but as people who did something good for them…Maybe they don’t love us, but they are not afraid of us”.
He added “these children are the living proof that cooperation does exist between Israeli and Palestinian doctors in Jerusalem and the West Bank”.