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MRN alarmed by worsening health conditions in Gaza

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South African Palestine solidarity groups have criticized the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “politicking” against Hamas, while health care conditions deteriorate in Occupied Gaza. Gaza’s residents are on the brink of a crisis after the Israeli government’s decision to cut power supply to the region, which has been under a blockade for 10 years.

The power cut will have a dire effect on the operations of hospitals, schools and businesses. Gaza’s hospitals are forced to rely on generators, and the constant surge in electricity is damaging essential medical equipment.  The power shortage will have a disastrous impact on the work of medical doctors and surgeons, placing the lives of patients at further risk.

In a statement, the Media Review Network said it was appalled by the reluctance of the PA to provide urgently needed medicines for Gaza’s besieged population. The human rights group said it condemned the PA’s immoral decision to drastically reduce its health and medical budget for the Gaza Strip. From an initial $4 million budget it dropped to $2.3 million in April 2017 and less than half a million dollars during May.

“PA president Mahmoud Abbas bears full responsibility for this vengeful disregard of urgent health care requirements, which allows the Apartheid regime of Israel to withhold its obligations as the Occupying power,” said MRN executive member Iqbal Jassat.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHRI) has demanded medicines and all basic needs of the people of the Gaza Strip be allowed entry into the besieged enclave, warning that the health and living conditions there are deteriorating.

In a report, the organisation said: “240 children and hundreds of cancer patients and cystic fibrosis patients do not receive treatment because the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah refuses to send budgets to the Health Ministry in Gaza.”

According to the report, the Gaza Strip today lacks one-third of the vital medicines it needs and more than 270 medical devices for operating rooms and emergency treatment.

“The main victims of the crisis are 321 cystic fibrosis patients, the majority of whom are children, cancer patients, and about 240 children who have developmental problems and need therapeutic milk,” the report added.

Jassat said he found it “highly offensive and objectionable” that the PA’s Health Ministry in Ramallah has also been refusing for the past two months to send medicines donated by donor countries to the Gaza Strip.

The MRN has demand and urgent intervention by the United Nations to ensure that Israel and the PA, immediately transfer medicines, medical products and all health care requirements to Gaza.

“We also call on the South African government, our Health Ministry and relevant health care institutions to apply pressure on the Abbas-run PA to discharge its budgetary obligations without delay,” Jassat concluded.

The PA blamed Hamas’s failure to reimburse it for electricity for the reduction in power supplies. But analysts say the move is meant to apply pressure on Hamas to hand control of Gaza to the PA. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from the Fatah movement in 2007, and several attempts at reconciliation, most recently in 2014, have failed. VOC

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