In late December 2020, Project Rozana received an urgent request from the Ministry of Health in Gaza to facilitate training of ICU medical personnel in COVID-related fields.

Ruth Rosen, Executive Director of Project Rozana said,

“As soon as we were ‘off the phone’ we knew who to call. Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 ICU patients in the country, so it had ‘runs on the board’.


“And it was home to two inspirational nurses who head an international NGO, Nurses in the Middle East.”

The Palestinian health system’s capacity to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic was severely affected by longstanding health system challenges and critical shortages in infrastructure and human resources. Also, the pandemic posed a huge challenge for healthcare providers who needed additional knowledge and skills to respond effectively.

The aim of the project is to enhance the knowledge, skills, and best practices of Gazan healthcare professionals responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Project Rozana brought to the table,

  • Senior ICU nurses from Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) and founders of local NGO Nurses in the Middle East, Naela Hayek and Julie Benbenishty PhD (pictured above).
  • And chief nurse, Mohammed Alhaj, from the largest COVID hospital in Gaza, the European Gaza Hospital (EGH).

In early 2021 they identified the needs and gaps in training and capacity for the COVID-19 crisis. Mohammad was joined by about 20 nurses from EGH while Naela and Julie were joined by other senior medical personnel from HMO.

Initial online training was undertaken for senior nurses, experienced with ICU and COVID-19 using the ‘train the trainer’ method. The program will continue through the trickle-down effect for nurses throughout the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

 Training modules covered are,

  • Nurses protection from COVID-19 in the ICU.
  • Types of oxygen therapy uses in ICU.
  • Advanced modes of ventilation.
  • Nitrus oxide and ECMO for COVID-19 management.
  • Patient monitoring (hemodynamic and respiratory) in the ICU.
  • Case studies.


Funding from the ‘European Union Partnership for Peace’ program could not have come at a more critical time for Israeli and Palestinian children. Many are grappling with mental health issues caused by COVID-19 and ongoing challenges of living in a regional conflict zone. 

The €750,000 grant announced in July 2020 was directed to the Jerusalem-based Binational School of Psychotherapy (BSPT). This is the leading agency in the Middle East tasked with training Israeli and Palestinian child psychologists.

The BSPT is a Project Rozana initiative.

The funding has allowed 32 child psychologists (16 from the West Bank and Gaza and 16 from Israel) to enhance their skills, with an unprecedented number of children presenting with PTSD.

The training was conducted via telehealth because of the restrictions on face-to-face learning. It is providing the psychologists with the tools to deal with this global health disaster. They have just completed their first year.

Project Rozana was largely responsible for the establishment of the BSPT in 2016 by encouraging project partner, World Vision Australia to fund the pilot program. The BSPT is one of the most effective programs in the Middle East to meet the urgent need to upskill mental health professionals in child and adolescent trauma treatment.

For the current program, Project Rozana brought together project partners Hadassah Medical Organization and Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development. They co-implemented a 42-month project under the framework of the EU-funded action,

“Improvement of mental health care and treatment for conflict-affected children and adolescents in East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza and Israel”.

The program involves training and preparing 60 Israeli and Palestinian post-graduate psychotherapists in the latest theories and research in youth trauma treatment, in a lecture series of more than 100 sessions.

It operates under the direction of…

  • Prof Esti Galili-Weisstub, Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Hadassah, a world-renowned expert in the treatment of conflict related trauma (pictured left above).
  • Shafiq Masalha, clinical psychotherapist, senior academic lecturer at Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and President of ERICE (Empowerment and Resilience In Children Everywhere), alongside academic and steering committees (pictured right above).

The project recruited a group of 29 mental health professionals from Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, following a rigorous screening process.

The new training program started in October 2020 and is being monitored and assessed by an external team alongside Project Rozana Israel.

The primary project outcome is the continued expansion of technical capacities (mostly therapeutic and clinical) of Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals in a cross-cultural context.


The growing success of Project Rozana internationally has opened up opportunities for new faces in the organisation.

Project Rozana Israel is riding a wave of popularity, attracting an impressive and diverse range of professionals of all ages, both male and female.

They include secular Israelis and those who identify with various faiths including Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze – immigrants as well as Israeli-born.

Among them are doctors, lawyers, psychologists, financial experts, directors and administrators of large health centres, senior business managers, former IDF personnel, musicians and educators and former politicians and diplomats.

We want to acknowledge the outstanding work of Executive Director Ronit Zimmer who was the first to establish the Israeli affiliate.  Ronit is working with members to set up working committees.

A full-day introductory meeting of the expanded Board and general members took place on 30 July.  It covered an outstanding program leading to reinforcing the Mission and looking to fresh ideas for building bridges into the future.

Recorded messages of welcome and support were received from Dr. Riad Al-Malki – Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Nitzan Horowitz – Israeli Minister of Health, and from Ron Finkel AM – Chair, Project Rozana International.

Among the topics covered during the morning session:

  • Health as Physical, Social and Mental Wellbeing
  • Can Health Serve as a Basis for Building Bridges of Trust?       
  • Engagement and Giving – Moral versus Ideological Impetus

Participants were treated to a beautiful musical interlude during lunch with member Dr. Nizar Radwan – Violinist and Conductor of the Nazareth Orchestra and Doctor of Mathematics at the Technion, Haifa. Dr Radwan performed well-known eastern melodies.

In the afternoon an intriguing session was led by Regional Director Dr Raid Mansour on Cultivating Relations with the Authorities.

Current and projects in planning – Wheels of Hope, Binational School of Psychotherapy, the Women’s Primary Healthcare Initiative and the Nurses’ Mission – were discussed in afternoon sessions. This was followed by the working committees: Management, Fundraising, Strategy, Medical, Peacebuilding, Coordination, Legal and Public Relations.


In 2010 Palestinian activist, Omar Barghouti, launched a new campaign – anti-normalisation with Israel. His objective – to agitate and prevent interaction between Israelis and Palestinians across all sectors. Over a matter of years Barghouti achieved a lot. Cross border economic, educational, social,cultural and sporting activity plunged. Fewer and fewer interactions meant fewer and fewer people on both sides had opportunities to get to know the “other”. Increasing numbers of Israelis grew into adulthood without ever having had an opportunity to meet their Palestinian counterparts in a normal context. Likewise for the Palestinians. For them the situation was aggravated. Their interactions with Israeli were largely confined to checkpoints.

One sector stood out as a beacon of light – the health sector. The one space where every minute of every day Israelis and Palestinians met in a mutually respectful way. As professionals working together to deliver first class healthcare in Israeli hospitals and as patients sharing wards in those same Israeli hospitals. It was in this environment that the idea of Project Rozana was born. Our Mission is simple – to build better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health. We address everyday existential needs through our Wheels of Hope program and invest strategically with our Palestinian partners in projects aimed to build capacity, so that Palestinian patients should expect to receive the same level of care in Palestinian hospitals that they currently receive in the Israeli hospitals. Moving from dependence to independence. All the time doing this in a way that builds trust and confidence. This is just so vital at a time when 90% of Palestinians don’t trust Israelis and 80% of Israelis don’t trust Palestinians.

It is a source of enormous regret to me that I cannot be with you today to share in this historic experience. The first formal in-person gathering of the new, expanded Committee of Project Rozana Israel. But the spirit of your gathering is with me, and I believe we are all moving in a very positive direction. Our steps may be small but we are gathering momentum. I see it everywhere. We are in the right place at the right time and we have, together, the opportunity to make a serious, positive contribution to better outcomes in the region.

On behalf of all my colleagues on the Board of Project Rozana International I send our best wishes to you for a day of fruitful discussion and deliberation that should form the foundation of really meaningful success in the years to come. We are a small but growing global movement. We are truly honoured to be sharing this journey with you.


Project Rozana is expanding exponentially as it ramps up its outreach in Israel and Palestine and gains greater attention internationally.

The growing success of Project Rozana internationally has opened up opportunities for new faces in the organization. We’re pleased to acknowledge the following people in Australia and Israel.


Development Manager appointed


In June we welcomed Dorit as Project Rozana Australia Development Manager. Dorit joins Development Director Rosemary Carrick in the Development-Marketing-Fundraising team.

Born in Israel, Dorit came to Australia in 2002 after completing her army service and first degree. She completed her MA in International Relations at Griffith University and worked for five years as Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator at the Brisbane Jewish Community Office.

Moving to Melbourne in 2010, Dorit honed her marketing and donor relationship skills. She returned to Israel in 2012 where she worked for six years as Executive Assistant to Professor Joseph Zohar, the Head of Psychiatry at Tel Hashomer-Sheba Hospital. During that period, she coordinated stakeholder events for international medical organizations.

On her return to Melbourne with her young family in 2018, Dorit was appointed Engagement Coordinator and Executive Assistant to the CEO of National Council for Jewish Women–Vic. Her role included coordinating fundraising campaigns, donor stewardship and relationship-building as well as research and creating marketing collateral.

We are delighted to introduce Dorit to our Project Rozana community.


The Board of Project Rozana Australia has established three working committees to boost the organization’s capacity. The impetus was our recent application for membership of the Australian Council for International Development. The ACFID is the gatekeeper that ensures high standards for not-for-profit development organizations wishing to attract Australian government grants.

We established the following committees,

  • Governance & Risk chaired by Lee Ann Basser.
  • Finance & Audit chaired by Ron Finkel AM.
  • Communications & Media chaired by Jacqueline Pascarl.

Our aim is to make sure we have an expanded infrastructure to enable us to focus on broadening our reach and encouraging new supporters who identify with our bridge-building Mission. Thank you to Lee Ann, Jacqueline and Ron along with Peter Hunt AM, Hass Dellal AO, Eliza Harvey and Michael Krape for assisting with these new responsibilities.


Project Rozana Israel has expanded its operating Board.


Doron Levinson is a successful business person and lawyer, lyricist, expert in negotiations, and conflict and crises resolution.



Rabbi Ehud Bandel is active in interfaith and human rights issues. He is the Founding Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, and currently first Vice-President of the International Council of Christians and Jews.

Amnon Bartal is the Deputy Chair of the Association of Engineers, Architects and Graduates in Technological Sciences in Israel.

Dr Iris Dotan-Katz is a senior clinical and organizational psychologist.

Dr Janan Faraj Falah is a senior lecturer at the Arab College of Education in Haifa.

Eli Goldshmidt is a former Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset (2013 -2015) for One Israel and the Labor Party between 1992 and 2001.

Dr. Adam Goldstein is Head of trauma surgery at Wolfson Medical Center. His goal is to optimize trauma care to the community.

Dr Yoel Guzansky is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies specializing in Gulf politics and security.

Shareef Hamdan is an experienced and highly-driven civil lawyer with an LLM and MBA from Haifa University and Netanya Academic Center.

Dr Elias J Issaq is a specialist in urology since 1983. He is Chief of Urology at Holy Family Hospital in Nazareth.

Iri Kassel is a member of Kibbutz Hatzerim and the Chair of its Board. He was the Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and a former Director of the Ben Gurion Institute in the Negev.

Prof Eitan Kerem is the former Head of Pediatrics at Hadassah Hospital, and Professor in Pediatrics at the Hebrew University – Hadassah Medical School.

Prof Merav Leiba is Director of the Hematology Institute at Assuta Ashdod Hospital.

Ronit Lerner is the Chief Financial Officer at Neopharm Medical.

Jeanine A. Penn works in the International Relations and Resource Development Office at the Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa.

Dr Nizar Radwan is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at the Technion University in Haifa.

Dr Anwar Saab is a Family Medicine physician with a specialty in primary care.

Saleh Saad served as a member of the 20th Knesset on behalf of the Zionist Union party. He is Chair of the Druze Zionist Council in Beit Jann.

Dr Eric Setton has been the Medical Director at Herzliya Medical Center since 2017.

Faik Serhan had a long military career and reached the rank of Colonel, the highest field-grade officer.

Dr Dan Shanit was Deputy Director General and Director of Medicine and Healthcare, Peres Center for Peace. He is founding member and the first chair of the Israel Center of Telemedicine and Telecare at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Orly Shoval is the Director of National Marketing and Sales in the medical field at Mor Medical Centers, owned by Clalit Health Services, Israel’s largest HMO.

Oren Wiener is the General Manager at Ben Yehuda Aged Care Facility.

Ruth Yaron was a senior diplomat in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has served in the past three years as the chief instructor in the National Defense College.

Sana Zayadna is a psychotherapist from the north of Israel who abandoned computer teaching in favour of behavioural studies.

See more detailed biographies


Project Rozana is facilitating new initiatives,
– Women’s Primary Healthcare Initiative
– Advanced Trauma Life Support Training
– Online Courses by Assuta Ashdod Hospital


The major training and treatment program for Project Rozana starting this year is aimed at Palestinian women and girls living in the West Bank. They are vastly under-served in essential medical services and sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH).

This is desperately needed as inadequate infrastructure, transportation complexities, financial barriers and cultural expectations have created obstacles to accessible healthcare. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced a scaling-down of SRH by the major healthcare providers in the region, further exacerbating healthcare disparities.

We know that around 99% of our target community have smartphones. The phones’ capability of data collection, analysis, display, and transmission, offer dual functionality as diagnostic point-of-care devices and an electronic medical records system.

They are key to creating virtual clinics for Palestinian women and girls in remote communities. These have proven effective in other indigenous and remote communities throughout the world.

These virtual clinics will offer a first port of call for primary care. And facilitate secondary care by connecting with Palestinian and Israeli health institutions, including NGO-run mobile clinics, to ensure seamless delivery of health services.

The objective of the program is to support cooperative regional efforts to improve women’s health delivery. This is through unique and sustainable cross-border education that can strengthen the Palestinian healthcare system and contribute to conditions for peace.

The initial process will be as follows:

  • Engage with five local women’s organizations in five West Bank governorates that will establish health mobilizer teams, consisting of 100 community health mobilizers (CHM) over three years. They will provide a portfolio of essential women’s health services via virtual health spaces, and evidence-based education to targeted communities.
  • Provide human and virtual infrastructure support to the CHMs to enable them to deliver essential health services for women and girls. This includes access to SRH, antenatal, perinatal, and post-partum care, and health system navigation.
  • Connect health mobilizer teams with existing mobile units and institutional providers to develop community health ecosystems and support coordinated care.
  • Create a sustainable model by engaging the Palestinian Ministry of Health in year 2 and gradually transitioning the management and expenditures of the virtual clinics exclusively to them by year 5.

What are the program deliverables?

  1. 100 community mobilizers trained and employed to support women’s health programs.
  2. Cross-border links between Palestinian communities and Israeli healthcare institutions for local healthcare capacity building in women’s health.
  3. Long-term and sustainable access to health care for women and girls.

Traumatic injury contributes significantly to the global burden of disease, affecting all members of society regardless of social economic class or ethnicity. Emergency room physicians and trauma surgeons are responsible for diagnosing, treating, and providing life-saving care for these patients.

What is unique to trauma surgery, compared to other surgical services, is that it is not only technology that makes a significant difference to the patient’s outcome and survival. It is the ‘trauma system’ itself, be it organization, team-work, training.

The ATLS course, an internationally recognized training course adopted by over 80 countries, provides an essential foundation for trauma care. Not only is it proven to increase survival of trauma victims, it is also a required medical qualification that is a prerequisite for most international fellowship/residency programs and jobs.

Within a small geographical region, Israel and Palestine reflect the global disparities in trauma and acute surgical care. Improving care for trauma patients, by optimising and standardising the ‘trauma system’ across political boundaries, will benefit both populations, while providing a platform for cooperation now and into the future.

This program will provide an official ATLS course for 20 Palestinian and Israeli surgeons/surgeons-in-training that will provide a platform,

  1. To establish professional and personal relationships.
  2. For future educational courses in the field of trauma – ultrasound courses, advanced procedures, research.

Project Rozana USA is working with Rotary USA to support a pilot program that can be replicated.


The program aims to develop a dedicated curriculum for online short courses in the cardiothoracic, oncological, and renal fields. These to be delivered monthly by Assuta Ashdod Hospital health practitioners to their counterparts at the European Gaza Hospital via telehealth channels.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the main cause of death and disability worldwide. Effective management of these chronic conditions depends largely on continuous, responsive, accessible, quality services and successful patient engagement and self-management.

The NCDs most prevalent in Gaza are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Over the last decade, a lack of diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies, as well as referral restrictions have fundamentally interrupted the treatment of chronic diseases. Additionally, there few qualified medical professionals in these specialist fields.

This training program aims to strengthen and build the resilience of the Gazan health system by facilitating training opportunities for health workers in critical gaps in NCD fields, by leveraging telehealth technologies.

COVID-19 has increased the risk of living with NCDs, diverted resources and created fear among patients about receiving care in medical institutions. Digital health, and in particular telemedicine visits, electronic records and electronic prescriptions, have been successful in,

  • Facilitating better symptom assessment.
  • Self-management and reduction of symptom distress.
  • Awareness of health conditions.
  • Patient–provider communication.
  • Timely care-seeking, follow-up and referral, treatment adherence.
  • And improved quality of living among the patients living with NCDs.

The program aims to:

  • Leverage telehealth technologies to address critical gaps in secondary health services and help build local medical capacity and resilience in Gaza.
  • Provide access to treatment to prevent, manage and control NCDs with the aim of improving health and reducing the costs of direct care.
  • Strengthen and build the resilience of the Gazan health system by facilitating training opportunities for health workers.
  • Contribute to the conditions for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Project Rozana is committed to:

  • Establishing clinics at Assuta Ashdod and the European Gaza Hospital. There Assuta Ashdod physicians will provide Gazan patients with preventive and curative medical services in the cardiothoracic, oncology, and renal fields. This will be done through a dedicated telehealth platform, navigated by a local health practitioner.
  • Providing tertiary treatment and additional services for patients given Assuta Ashdod’s proximity to Gaza.
  • Leveraging the telehealth platform for specialist training to local health workers in these fields, which will serve to strengthen the Palestinian health system.


Earlier this year, the Project Rozana established a Project Review Committee. Its role is to create a robust process for prioritising partnerships and projects to be funded in Israel and Palestine. The committee will present its recommendations to the International Board for approval.

Committee co-chairs, Ruth Rosen (below left), Executive Director Project Rozana International, and Ronit Zimmer (below right), Executive Director Project Rozana Israel, said that an application must fit within the organization’s guidelines.

They explained how any proposed project should match Project Rozana’s Mission to build bridges to better understanding between Palestinians and Israelis through health.

“The application needs to explain the scope of the project and why it is relevant, why the intervention is an effective way to address the problem, the activities, outcomes, monitoring and evaluating and the funding required.”

Ronit Zimmer together with Program Manager Diana Shehade and Regional Director Dr Raid Mansour, will meet with applicants, review their proposal, provide paperwork and set out a matrix for the Project Review Committee with their recommendation to the Committee.

Ms Rosen said,

“It has been agreed that small projects will be approved for implementation once the Committee members have had the opportunity to present for discussion new proposals to their own boards.”

The Project Review Committee members (pictured below in order left to right), are,

  • Lee Ann Basser – Australia
  • Rev Canon Laurette Glasgow – Canada
  • Dr Janan Faraj Falah – Israel
  • Suzanne Jacobs – UK
  • Steve Lax – USA


The International Fund for Ireland is credited with bringing peace to Northern Ireland. It has lessons that Israelis and Palestinians would do well to study.

The following article was written by Rev Tim Costello AO, (below left) a Goodwill Ambassador for Project Rozana International, and Ron Finkel AM (below right), Chair of Project Rozana International. It was recently published in the online public policy journal Pearls and Irritations.

Alf McCreary is an Irish author. In A Fund of Goodwill, McCreary tells the story of the success of the International Fund for Ireland. Established in 1986 its mission was to invest in projects that brought Irish Protestants and Catholics together.

Speaking about the Fund, McCreary (pictured above) said,

“The International Fund’s story is one of co-operation on many levels, not only politically and economically, but also across the divides within communities and across the border. It is a complex story but also an inspiring story of how so many people committed themselves to doing their best in the worst of times.”

The Fund, which pre-dated the Good Friday Agreements by a dozen years, is widely regarded to have gone a considerable way to building significant trust and better understanding between two communities seemingly destined to the continuation of centuries long inter-communal conflict.

How pleasing then to see that the US Congress passed legislation in December 2020 to support a latter-day version of the same idea. This time applying the strategy to the seemingly intractable challenge of the seventy plus years conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The bi-partisan (a not so often heard word these days) Middle East Partnership for Peace Act commits the USA to deploying US$250 million over five years into cross border economic and people-to-people projects designed to address the ‘trust deficit’ that exists between Israelis and Palestinians. The US is inviting other countries to join them in this endeavour. This in the same way as the Irish Fund drew on several countries, including Australia.

This is the space in which Project Rozana is active. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is the right space for all of us who believe that there are identified pathways to reduce the 90% lack of trust that is felt by Palestinians towards Israelis and the 79% of mistrust that is reciprocated by Israelis towards their Palestinian neighbours.

Project Rozana has identified health as the sector most likely to have an immediate positive impact. It is the one space where, every minute of every day, Israelis and Palestinians meet in an atmosphere of mutual respect, whether as professional colleagues or as patients.

This is the space where we have been successfully working in for over eight years. Having launched in Melbourne in May 2013, Project Rozana has built a respected and impactful global footprint.

Our partners on the ground deliver ‘Wheels of Hope’. This is our initiative which sees 2000+ Palestinian and Israeli volunteers provide, between them, daily, free transportation, for critically ill Palestinian children and their carers. This is from their homes in the West Bank or the Gaza checkpoints to hospitals in Israel. The hospital care, the cost of which is covered by the PA on the same terms as that provided to Israeli patients by their health insurance funds, meets an existential need. For the moment the equivalent care is simply not available in Palestine.

But we are working to change that as well. And we are doing it with the full support of both governments and the Palestinian and Israeli health network. It is a privilege we don’t take lightly. It is one that we understand needs positive engagement. But it is one that we know, from years of constructive activity in the region, is making a difference.

We are not naive to the bigger and seemingly intractable political realities. But Project Rozana has a singular agenda – to build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health. Our Mission has the support of governments, Australia’s included, and, most importantly, of people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths. We believe that, like the Irish experience, there is a pathway to a better future built on a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect.

We are optimistic that Australians, no matter their political persuasion or ethnicity, will join us.


+61 3 9272 5600


PO Box 2400, Caulfield Junction, Vic 3161 Australia


+61 3 9272 5600

1800 hadassah


c/o Hadassah Australia, PO Box 2400, Caulfield, Vic 3161 Australia