Gaza residents are dying for lack of medical care
By Ravi Matah
NEW YORK – Residents of Gaza, hemmed in by Israel’s three-year blockade, are dying because they are not getting efficient medical care and Israel denies them exit permits to seek treatment elsewhere.
“The World Health Organization pointed out that many specialized treatments, such as for complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer, are not available in Gaza and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza,” said a statement issued by Max Gaylard, humanitarian coordinator for occupied Palestine.
“But many patients have had their applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli authorities and have missed their appointments, with some having died while waiting for referral,” he said in a damning statement aimed at Israeli atrocities.
“The continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza,” said Gaylard in a joint statement with the Association of International Development Agencies.
“Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during the fighting in Gaza one year ago, have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into the territory owing to the ongoing blockade, which is now in its third year,” said the statement.
“Operation ‘Cast Lead’ – the three-week military operation which Israel said it launched in response to rocket and other attacks by militants in Gaza – damaged 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals, and 43 of its 110 primary health-care facilities were either damaged or destroyed,” it said.
“Certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment and electronic devices, are very difficult to bring in, and health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world,” the statement noted.
“The Government of Israel has a legal duty to guarantee the right to health for people in Gaza,” declared today’s statement. “The humanitarian community calls for the crossings into Gaza to be reopened.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a report issued last November, stressed that the blockade of vital supplies has devastated Gaza’s economy and “has also severely impaired the realization of a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights.”
The new statement noted that Gaza’s economy is in virtual collapse with rising unemployment and poverty, which will have long-term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population.
In a related development, Ban appointed Filippo Grandi of Italy as the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.