Gaza health ministry warns of ‘unprecedented’ shortage of medicines, medical supplies

A child receives medical care in a hospital in Gaza [File photo]

A child receives medical care in a hospital in Gaza

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip said on Tuesday it was facing an “unprecedented” shortage of essential medicines and medical supplies.

“The medical crisis in hospitals and health centres is the most difficult during the years of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry’s annual requirement of medicines and medical supplies amounts to $40 million, however during the first half of this year, only $10 million was available for medicines and medical supplies.

The statement noted that the shortage deprived 50 per cent of patients in the Gaza Strip from treatment.

It called on all parties to take urgent and effective measures to provide essential medicines for patients with cancer, blood diseases, kidney failure, neurological and psychological illnesses as well as chronic diseases.

READ: Palestinians in Gaza, the deal of the century and dwindling living conditions 

The Gaza Strip has suffered under a more than 12-year siege at the hands of Israel, with support from Egypt and the international community. Goods, food, aid, construction materials and other essentials have not been allowed into the Strip and people have been left unable to leave even to access medical care.

The General Federation of Palestinian Labour Unions reported last year that as a result of the siege, unemployment in the enclave almost doubled to 50 per cent, rising from 27.2 per cent before 2007.

Due to the ban on the entry of fuel, Gaza’s sole electricity plant has been forced to shut down leaving civilians with only 4 hours of electricity a day; further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

A report released by the UN last month raised concerns that the Strip is “de-developing” faster than anticipated, such that the 2020 deadline by which it was said that Gaza would be “unliveable” may have already arrived.

Palestinians are regularly denied access to much needed medical attention, and unable to leave the Gaza strip to access it.

READ: goo.gl/UW1gMb

Infographic by The White Canvas

(Source / 18.07.2019) 

Palestinian prisoners need our attention before they die

Palestinians demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, stage a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Eastern Jerusalem on March 26, 2019. ( Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency )

By Ramona Wadi 

Since 1967, 220 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prisons. The latest victim is Nasser Taqatqa, detained in June from his home in Beit Fajjar, accused of purportedly having ties to Hamas. Taqatqa, age 31, was interrogated by Shin Bet, tortured and placed in solitary confinement. On Tuesday he was found dead, prompting another wave of anger among Palestinians and much needed focus on the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

According to Haaretz, Taqaqta was discovered dead in the prison’s mental health centre where was taken for medical supervision. Palestinian media states that he was transferred to different interrogation facilities and constantly placed in solitary confinement. Taqatqa was last seen in Nitzan prison, where it has been said he died in solitary confinement.

Israel has claimed Taqatqa died as a result of a stroke. Meanwhile the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society declared that autopsy results revealed extreme torture and abuse, leading to Taqatqa’s death.

READ: Israel Supreme Court throws out petition for Palestinian child prisoners to call parents

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: “The martyrdom of Taqatqa in the interrogation cells demand an immediate action by the International Criminal Court and the opening of an official investigation into the crimes of the occupying power in order to pursue and prosecute Israeli war criminals.”

Needless to say, this statement fell on deaf ears. No call for justice has emanated from the international community. If the UN fails to take up the call of Palestinian prisoners while they are still alive, a tortured and dead prisoner will present no significance to the organisation.

Likewise, the Palestinian Authority’s continuous exploitation of Palestinian prisoners does not help to further its cause. On the contrary, it has facilitated the transfer of many Palestinians to Israeli jails, while the PA security services act like Israel’s extension in the occupied West Bank. The PA has no foundation whatsoever to speak about the rights of Palestinian prisoners. It is only a step ahead of the international community in terms of speaking out, due to perfunctory obligation which the UN can conveniently sidestep.

Meanwhile, the growing rift between the PA and the Palestinian people will continue to displace attention away from the Palestinian prisoners’ plight. Political authority is the determining factor which singles out the people as perpetual victims without protection from their leaders which is, of course, a favourable scenario for Israel.

READ: Prisoners face ‘inhumane treatment’ in Israel

Away from the cloistered arena of human rights jargon, there has yet to be a single instance where such rights can claim a single, irreversible victory. The media reports reactions – prisoners banging on doors and refusing meals at the news of a Palestinian prisoner’s death – but what do such reports tell us about the prisoners in Israeli jails? Nothing. The collective efforts at stifling their voices, even to the point of murder through torture and medical negligence, is provoking an oblivion which is tantamount to a loss of identity, at least when it comes to perception from the outside. With the exception of Palestinians in close proximity with Israeli forces, who spares a thought for Palestinian prisoners before they are turned into temporary headlines by Israel’s colonial violence?

(Source / 18.07.2019) 

Father: Gov’t Not Serious About Helping My Cancer-Stricken Daughter

Palestinian journalist Fathi Sabbah has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) government and its health ministry of not being serious about providing medical treatment for his daughter, Rima, who suffers from blood cancer.

In Facebook remarks, Sabbah said he received pledges from premier Mohamed Shtayyeh over the phone to personally follow up the case of his daughter after he published her story a few days ago.

He added that he was also phoned by Ahmed Abu Houli, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, who pledged to provide his daughter with appropriate medical treatment in hospitals like any citizen.

However, he affirmed that the medical referral to Hadassah Hospital in Israel only included a medical checkup without covering the expenses of medication.

(Source / 12.07.2019) 

Israeli bullet leaves Palestinian football teen amputated

Little Palestinian boy lost his leg after being shot by Israeli forces ‘while playing football.’

Mahmoud Salah, a 15-year-old Palestinian, was full of life, sparing no moment to joke and play with his friends in al-Khader town in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

He was playing football with his peers in the town when an Israeli bullet ripped through his left leg, nipping all his dreams right in the bud.

“A month ago, I was playing football with my friends when the ball crossed the wire near an Israeli military checkpoint,” Salah told Anadolu Agency.

“As I moved to get the ball, I heard heavy gunfire; I was shot and injured,” he said.

Despite his injuries, the Palestinian minor was arrested by Israeli forces and was moved to a hospital for treatment.

After a three-day coma, Salah woke up on a very tragic scene; his left leg was amputated.

“It was an unexpected shock that I have never imagined,” Salah said, trying to hold back his tears.

“This amputation has destroyed me,” he said. “It would have been easier for me to be sentenced to life in prison than amputating my leg.”

“I do not know how I will pursue my life, how I will live with my friends,” Salah said. “Today, I’m disabled.”

“My dream of life has been killed,” the Palestinian boy said.

Hardest moment

Despite his shock, Salah still hopes to complete his treatment and install a prosthetic leg, and go to university.

“Sometimes I feel that my leg is still there, but when I look down, I see it amputated,” he said.

Salah was accused by Israeli interrogators of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli military checkpoint, charges he denied.

Salah’s mother, Aisha Salah, says her son’s leg amputation was the “hardest moment of her life”.

“It was one of the most difficult moments of my life,” she told Anadolu Agency.

“It feels like they have cut a piece of my heart,” she said.

Notably, Salah’s brother Bakr is held by the Israeli authorities.

“The [Israeli] occupation is fighting us with everything,” the bereaved mother said. “My eldest son was arrested, and the other son was handicapped.”

Targeting children

Amana Farahna, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Prisoner Society, an NGO, accused the Israeli army of intentionally targeting children and arresting them.

“The case of Mahmoud Salah is similar to a number of cases of children, who were subjected to gunfire and medical negligence that resulted in amputations,” she told Anadolu Agency.

“The Israeli army is deliberately targeting children in the limbs and turning them into disabled people, to create a state of deterrence against children.”

Farahna cited that the Israeli army has arrested around 220 Palestinian minors under the age of 18, held them in inhuman conditions and subjected them to harsh interrogations.

She denounced “the policy of arresting children, which contradicts with the rights of the child, and international law”.

According to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s Commission for Prisoners’ Affairs, the total number of Palestinians in Israeli custody currently stands at 5,700 — including numerous women and children.

(Source / 04.07.2019) 

Popular women’s conference in Gaza against Bahrain Workshop

Women's Conference1

By Ghada Haniyya

The Islamic Women’s Movement (HAMAS) organized a popular women’s conference titled “Defending the Right of Return and Confronting the Deal of the Century and the Manama Conference” on Monday in the Rashad Al Shawa Cultural Center in Gaza City.

The head of the Islamic Women’s Movement, Rajaa Al-Halabi, said that all conspiracies will be destroyed on the rock of steadfastness of the Palestinian people. And the Palestinian women will not spill the blood of the martyrs in vain, as well as claiming the rights of detainees in occupation prisons.

In addition, she stressed that the deal of the century will not pass, and the Bahrain conference will remain a joke for the whole world, because the Palestinian decision is not sold and bought. Also, the people will never compromise or surrender their land.
She pointed out that Palestinian women in all their spectrum reject the process of normalization, the Bahrain conference and the deal of the century that wants to end the Palestinian cause.

For his part, said the vice-chair of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in Gaza, Dr. Khalil Al-Hayya, “that Palestine has been subjected to attempts to liquidate over 100 years, so as Palestinians, we must stand united against plots that target our just cause”.
Al-Hayya pointed out that the first steps to counter the deal of the century is to dissolve the shame of Oslo and to stop the security coordination.

He pointed out that the deal of the century is not aimed at Gaza alone, but at the Arab and Islamic civilization, and wants to loot the wealth of the nation and the rupture of individuals in one country.

He added that the deal came to expand the occupation in all countries without shame, and take away all the projects of resistance and the meanings of confrontation to the Zionist enemy.

The vice-chair of the Hamas movement in Gaza said that Hamas rejects the deal of the century and the Bahrain conference, and will work by all necessary means to encounter its output. Hamas also is calling on Bahrain to withdraw from participating in it, because it seeks to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

In turn, Ektimal Hamad, Member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, explained that the Bahrain Conference is a gateway to infringe the rights of our people on the road to complete liquidation. Therefore, we must invest the Palestinian position rejecting the deal of the century and the Bahrain Conference.

Moreover, she stressed the need of the restoration of national unity and structuring a consolidated strategy to face the deal of the century. She Also noted the importance of investing the energies of the Arab nation and developing a clear plan to face this deal.
She called for the abolition of the organization of the workshop and demands the Arab states not to participate in it, because it is a gate of the portals of the implementation of the deal century, and everyone must besieged the policy of occupation and trial by international law.

For her part, said member of the Islamic Jihad Munira Shafei, the message of the Palestinian people to the President of the United States Donald Trump is that, “we will die for our land and will not leave, although there are those who sold their dignity to America and Israel, there are those who remained on the sacrifice and dignity.”
She pointed out that Bahrain does not represent the free world, and many honorable people carry out the issue of Palestine and the issues of the free world, and that the process of normalization with the occupation will not change history, and the road to Jerusalem is not far away.

A representative of the National Commission for Refugees, Fadwa Shurafa, indicated that the Popular Conference comes as a confirmation of the legitimate constants of the Palestinian people, and rejected all forms of Zionist normalization.

She said that the Bahrain conference is categorically rejected, and that the Palestinian refugees are the only who suffer from injustice and siege and they constitutes 70% of the Palestinian people.

She stressed the need for UNRWA to fulfill its duties in support of the Palestinian people, and everyone should intensify efforts to deal with the deal of the century impartially.

Women's Conference2

Deal of the Century or Eon of Disasters?

By Jamal Kanj*

June 24, 2019

The Trumpian hyperbole marketing brand had generated unrealistic expectations for the “Deal of the Century.” For over a year and a half, Jared Kushner promised but missed at least three dates to unveil the “secret” plan.

Assisted by two bono fide Zionists, Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador David Friedman, Kushner’s lone political experience with Palestine/Israel is his family’s tax deductible contributions to building “Jewish only colonies.”  

Kushner’s predisposed conviction and his parochial bias were palpable in the June 2nd interview with Axios on HBO. In the interview, he opined that Palestinians were not “capable of governing” themselves or become free from Israeli occupation.

After more than a year of hyped promotion, Kushner’s Zionist team revealed a scaled down version of Trump’s “concrete plan.” Evident in the leaked conference agenda, the goal of Kushner’s gathering is not to offer economic support to Palestinians, but rather to provide a cover-up for opening the doors of Arab capitals to Israeli officials.

Israel gets the reward of the illusionary peace upfront while US tantalizes to Arabs a peace process that may never materialize. Deferring and circumventing political process is archetypical Israeli trademark strategy that seeks to harvest fruits before the tree blossoms. Hence, the fruits of the US proposed miniature workshop in Bahrain. 

In the Oslo Accord in 1993, the PLO agreed to recognize Israel, in advance, over 78% of historical Palestine. There was no reciprocal Israeli obligation toward the PLO on the remaining 22% (West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza). 

A quarter of a century later, peace did not blossom and the only implemented sections of the Oslo Accords were the PLO recognition of Israel. In addition, it relieved Israel of administering the life of five million Palestinians, security coordination and outsourcing―free of cost―the security services to the Palestinian Authority.

Meanwhile, Israel continued to violate and effectively buried the Oslo Accords under new expansive “Jewish only colonies” changing the demographics of the population in areas allotted for the future Palestinian state.

Ten years following the Accord, George W Bush proposed a Road Map for peace. To placate Israeli reservations, Bush rewarded Israel, in advance, with an official American letter agreeing to annex “Jewish only colonies” in the West Bank as part of any future peace agreement.

Israel crushed Bush’s Road Map under the bulldozers of yet more “Jewish only colonies.” The American letter remains the sole outcome of the Road Map. Greenblatt and Friedman are using Bush’s letter to advocate Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Kushner’s economic peace is an age old Israeli contrived gas bubble intends to skirt compliance with international law and UN resolutions. Shimon Peres floated the idea to equivocate Israel’s commitments under the Oslo Accords. Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revived it in 2009 to sidestep the American (Bush and Obama) administration’s support for two-state solution.

Yet, for quarter of a century since the establishment of the Palestinian authority, Israel had systematically strangled the very economy it (and now Kushner) claims to champion.

Since 1993, the European Union invested billions of dollars in economic infrastructure, including an airport and seaport in Gaza. In 2002 after the failure of Camp David, Israel obliterated both facilities denying Palestinians access to trade and fishing.

To further stifle the economy, Israel erected walls separating farmers from their olive groves and farms, spiked the West Bank with intrusive military checkpoints encumbering the movement of goods, divided towns and cities and misappropriated tax money held on Palestinian imports.

Kushner and Israel’s invented economic peace is a political shenanigan to sedate the bird cage (walled) economy, or leverage it in the form of collective punishment to suppress resistance and subjugate Palestinians.

Like Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and now ahead of rolling the political plan for the “Deal of Century”, Trump conferred on Israel another advanced installment by recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, cut financial aid to Palestinians including UN organizations, and the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights without any Israeli concession.

In addition to normalizing contacts between Arabs attending the Manama workshop and Israel (another advanced installment), Kushner’s plan would relegate the cost of the caged Palestinian economy to Arab countries, gifting Israel yet more freebies without negotiation. 

Kushner economic peace workshop is a false allure to salve Palestinian (and Arab) capitulation before rolling out the eon of all political disasters.

*Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) an author who had written weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. His recent coauthored book “Bride of the Sea” was published in Germany and Poland. 

The race to fail Palestine: the two-state compromise and Trump’s ‘deal of the century’

Palestinians stage a protest against the 'Deal of the Century', planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

Palestinians stage a protest against the ‘Deal of the Century’, planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018

By Ramona Wadi 

As the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” remains uncertain and probably postponed, the international community has pitted itself against the proposal and deeming it an incentive to stand unequivocally in favour of the two-state compromise, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly described as the only possibility. In the US, a similar scenario is taking place.

A resolution drafted by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen has raised Israel’s ire for its endorsement of the two-state compromise. Israeli diplomats, it was reported, have been lobbying for the removal of the two-state clause.

Palestinians, on the other hand, have been eliminated from the process except for necessary reference, and this is not due to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to entertain US prospects of a deal. Its insistence on the two-state compromise has gradually eroded the focus from Palestinian rights to the PA’s willingness to accommodate the international community. Hence, the PA’s stance is just a continuation of the façade it committed itself to since its establishment.

Pompeo: Deal of the century ‘unexecutable’ 

Last April, former EU diplomats insisted that the bloc should “formally reaffirm” its agreement to the two-state paradigm and refute the US plan. The reason, however, was the EU’s international standing as regards its purported peace-building role, rather than Palestinian rights which are non-existent in the two-state hypothesis. With a prolonged diplomatic confrontation between the US and the international community over which plan to follow for Palestine, and with the PA persistently advocating for the two-state despite the losses Palestinians have incurred, the last shards of pretence were eliminated.

Not one single entity has proposed the obvious – ask the Palestinian people what they want – lest there is a departure from the historical process of international interference which created a colonial entity in Palestine. Instead, the diplomatic battleground was extended to create a parallel where external actors’ decision-making is only concerned with what benefits their meddling will reap to enhance their international standing.

Trump's Deal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The same process is now being repeated in the US, pitting proponents of the two-state against Trump’s deal. Had the Trump administration not concocted a new plan to fail Palestinians, the entire international community would have intermittently continued to coerce Palestinians into its diplomacy. With two prospects spelling disaster for Palestinians, the race as to who will fail Palestinians first has begun.

READ: Time to stop the external manipulation of ‘what Palestinians want’ 

As the PA continues to limit itself to a choice between both disastrous options, it is aiding a complete manipulation of Palestinian rights. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to entertain US scheming holds no value while his faction is still supporting another form of facilitating Israel’s colonisation of Palestine.

Indeed, the PA’s stance is reminiscent of Jared Kushner’s refusal to discuss a two-state hypothesis, in terms of how detrimental both outcomes are for Palestinians.

While pretending to oppose Trump’s deal, the international community is pushing for a paradigm that covertly leads to the same outcomes. It is only because of the widespread hostility that Trump has generated since taking office, that the illusion of two camps for a solution has become ingrained and which is now being played out across the world in complete conformity.

(Source / 10.06.2019) 

Nurse in Gaza: “We had no choice but to lay patients on the ground.”

23 May 7:39 PM

by Sarah Collins, for Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency

Sarah Collins has just completed her first mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The emergency department nurse from Woodbury, in Devon, reflects on her time in Gaza.

I don’t think I will ever forget May 14, 2018. I have worked as a nurse for 13 years in many different settings and I didn’t think there was much left that could shock me.

“I began to realize my mission might be quite different from what I anticipated.”

I had arrived in Gaza less than a month earlier. My job description was to support and train emergency department staff to improve trauma care – a ‘hands-off’ role – but, things didn’t exactly turn out that way.

A few weeks before I was due to travel to Gaza, the first ‘Great Return March’ took place. The subsequent violence resulted in more than 700 people suffering gunshot wounds, in the border areas, and the health service was taken completely by surprise.

Suddenly, Gaza dominated the headlines, once more, and I began to realize my mission might be quite different from what I anticipated.

I was thrown into it as soon as I arrived – spending each Friday of my first few weeks in the emergency departments of different hospitals, helping the local staff to manage the influx of mass casualties.

We knew in advance that May 14 was going to be big, but no one could have predicted quite how bad it would be. Everyone was on high alert, at the hospital.

It was a trickle, at first, but that soon became a steady stream. Patient after patient – mostly young men, but there were older people and women, too.

“Soon, we began to run out of beds. An emergency donation was made, but it didn’t last.”

Almost all had gunshot wounds to the legs. We moved from patient to patient, doing what we could – mostly packing wounds, splinting fractures, applying makeshift tourniquets and starting intravenous fluids.

We picked up shattered limbs and tried, over and over, with endless packets of gauze and bandages, to stop the bleeding. At the same time, I knew that many legs were past saving.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the critical cases – those with gunshot wounds to the chest, or the head, being whisked through to the resuscitation room.

The number of patients kept increasing. Soon, we began to run out of beds. An emergency donation was made, but it didn’t last.

Before long, we had no choice but to lay our patients on the ground, and kneel beside them, to treat them. The numbers quickly threatened to overwhelm us. Each patient was accompanied by family or friends, and the small department became desperately overcrowded.

After some hours, we were pulled outside, through the crowds that had gathered, and we sat on a bench at the back of the hospital.

Someone pressed coffee and falafel sandwiches into our hands. I couldn’t believe what was happening. After a few minutes, we fought our way back inside.

The crowds and patient numbers had become overwhelming: it was no longer possible to triage or organize people – they just piled in, filling every conceivable space: you could not move a meter without stepping over a patient.

“I cannot remember the face of a single patient I cared for, that day.”

It was impossible to work in any kind of systematic way – all you could do was try to do something for the patient nearest you, until another nurse, or a relative, called you to help them with something else.

Everyone was giving every bit of their energy. Hospital cleaners became nursing assistants, families did whatever they could. I remember clearly the moment when I knew it was really bad: in this deeply conservative place, cultural boundaries were suddenly forgotten – male colleagues reached into my pockets to take scissors or bandages, fathers grabbed my hands to pull me to where their son lay on the floor.

People became desperate, fights broke out. I tried to close my ears to the cries of patients as I wrestled with their broken legs: we didn’t have enough pain killers, and we had to stop the bleeding.

I remember a moment when I stood in the middle of the room, chaos swirling around me, and I thought, “I don’t know what to do!” … and, then, one of the nurses called my name, pulled me to another patient, pressed more packets of gauze into my hand, and we continued.

The hours flew past like that. Eventually, as supplies became critical, the flow of patients finally began to slow down. The security situation was deteriorating as emotions ran higher, and our management decided to pull us out.

I remember coming back to the office where many of our colleagues were waiting for us: I remember the concern on their faces when I couldn’t hold back the tears. I remember putting my scrubs, and my shoes, in a bucket of bleach when I arrived home. I remember standing alone in my kitchen, in the dark, trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened.

The one thing I don’t remember is faces. I cannot remember the face of a single patient I cared for, that day.

“I share something special with the nurses I worked with, that day.”

Once a man stopped me and told me he recognized me, that I took care of his father when he was lying on that crowded floor, bleeding. We saw almost 600 patients, that day.

There was a doctor on duty that I saw many patients with. I found out, later, that they had brought his brother in, during the afternoon. He died before they could find my colleague.

It’s nearly one year on, now, and we have all found a way to put that day behind us: tucked it away in a corner of our minds so that we can carry on with our jobs.

I share something special with the nurses I worked with that day – if I see them now for a training session, or in passing, we share a nod, a smile, a greeting.

We hold the memory of that day silently between us, for just a second, and then we move on. I left a tiny part of myself on the floor of that emergency room, that day, and I know that long after I have moved on from Gaza, that part of me will remain, remembering.

Sarah Collins is an emergency department nurse with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Gaza.

(Source / 23.05.2019)

UN warns half of Gaza residents will be starving next month

A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 warned that the Gaza Strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020

UN Relief and Works Agency warned on Monday that one million people in Gaza Strip, half of its residents, would starve if the organisation did not secure $60m in aid for its food programmes.

In a statement the international organisation said: “At a time when Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan, often characterised by the festive nature of its Iftars, in Gaza, more than half the population depends on food aid from the international community.”

The statement stressed that unless UNRWA secures “at least an additional $60 million by June, their ability to continue providing food to more than one million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, including some 620,000 abject poor – those who cannot cover their basic food needs and who have to survive on $1.6 per day – and nearly 390,000 absolute poor – those who survive on about $3.5 per day – will be severely challenged.”

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are today over one million people who need emergency food assistance without which they cannot get through their day.

Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, said: “This is a near ten-fold increase caused by the blockade that lead to the closure of Gaza and its disastrous impact on the local economy, the successive conflicts that razed entire neighbourhoods and public infrastructure to the ground, and the ongoing internal Palestinian political crisis that started in 2007 with the arrival of Hamas to power in Gaza.”

A report issued by the United Nations in 2017 warned that the Gaza Strip would be “uninhabitable” by 2020.

The unemployment rate in Gaza rose to 52 per cent last year, with more than one million of the enclaves two million population dependent on quarterly UNRWA food handouts.

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Last year, the US State Department said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA.

The US had been UNRWA’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency’s overall budget.

This came a month after reports emerged of a secret American report stated that there are only 40,000 Palestinian refugees, noting they are the Palestinians who left their home land in 1948 and remain alive today and not their descendants.

US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reported to have tried to pressure Jordan to strip more than two million Palestinians of refugee status in a move that aims to end the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

(Source / 13.05.2019)

UN: Health funding gap means 1,700 in Gaza may face amputations

Two Palestinian amputee men sit in the waiting room at the ICRC for Artificial limbs and Polio Center (ALPC) in Gaza City on 25 October, 2018 [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

Two Palestinian amputee men sit in the waiting room at the ICRC for Artificial limbs and Polio Center (ALPC) in Gaza City on 25 October, 2018

A lack of health funding in Gaza means 1,700 people shot by Israeli security forces may have to have amputations in the next two years, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, told reporters on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

McGoldrick said 29,000 Palestinians had been wounded in protests in the past year, and 7,000 of them had gunshot wounds, mostly in the lower legs.

“You’ve got 1,700 people who are in need of serious, complicated surgeries for them to be able to walk again,” McGoldrick said.

“These are people who have been shot during the demonstrations and who are in need of rehabilitation, and very, very serious and complex bone reconstruction surgery over a two year period before they start to rehabilitate themselves.”

READ: Israel military reinforcements leaving Gaza boundary 

Without those procedures, all these people are at risk of needing an amputation, he said.

The UN is seeking $20 million to fill the gap in health spending.

A lack of funding to the World Food Programme and UNRWA, the UN humanitarian agency that supports Palestinians displaced by the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, also meant there could be an interruption of food supplies for 1 million people.

“If that stops, there is no alternative for people to bring food in from any other sources, because they don’t have purchasing power,” McGoldrick said.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said a severe lack of funds meant WFP had cut aid for 193,000 people this year in the West Bank and Gaza, with 27,000 getting nothing and the rest getting only $8 per month instead of the usual $10.

Some 2 million Palestinians live in Gaza, the economy of which has suffered years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ West Bank-based rival.

READ: As far as the UN is concerned, blaming Palestinians is the only available strategy 

People’s prospects were “precarious”, McGoldrick said. Gaza families averaged $4,000 of debt, while salaries averaged $400 per month, but 54 per cent of the population was unemployed.

The health system was impoverished, with unpaid salaries and dilapidated equipment, and many medical professionals had left if they could find opportunities elsewhere.

One teaching hospital was now only teaching trauma medicine, McGoldrick said, but the doctors on the ground did not have the technical ability to carry out the treatment required for the people at risk of amputation.

There have already been 120 amputations, 20 of them in children, in the past year, he said.

(Source / 08.05.2019)