Remembering Dr. Eyad el Sarraj, 1943-2013

Dr. el Sarraj, Founder of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

Dr. el Sarraj, Founder of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme

It is with a great sense of loss that we mourn Dr. Eyad el Sarraj, who died on December 17, 2013, at the age of 70 after a long struggle with multiple myeloma.

Dr. el Sarraj, for whom human rights and mental health work went hand in hand, was the first practicing psychiatrist in the Gaza Strip in 1977 and founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme in 1990.

His courage, decency, independence of mind, and vision of a better world made him a beacon of moral conscience and hope for those Israelis seeking peace with Palestinians and Palestinians struggling with both the occupation and their own ruinous political divisions.
These qualities earned him respect across the political spectrum (as evidenced by the film “The Gatekeepers”) and considerable international recognition.  In addition to the 1997 Physicians for Human Rights Award, he received the Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders in 1998.  In 2010, he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize for his “self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for common sense, reconciliation and peace between Palestine and Israel” and the Juan Jose Lopez-Ibor Prize in Psychiatry.

Dr. Eyad el Sarraj leaves behind a bereaved Palestine, a grieving family and friends around the world who will miss him deeply.

Dr. el Sarraj with Noam Chomsky in 2012 in the Gaza Strip

Dr. el Sarraj with Noam Chomsky in 2012 in the Gaza Strip