Freezing, rainy, snowy cold snap hits besieged Gaza Strip

Last year, three children died after they froze inside their homes which lack even primitive warming equipment

Freezing, rainy and snowy cold snap has been hitting the besieged Gaza Strip since the start beginning of last week; forecasters predict it would continue until the end of this week.

It is one of the worst spells of cold weather that hit Palestine this winter.

The people of Gaza are being affected particularly badly, due to the shortage of fuel and lack of vital equipment as a result of the 13-year-old Israeli siege imposed on the enclave.

Palestinian weather forecasters said that the cold front, which has been accompanied with heavy rains, high winds reaching up to 90km per hour, with waves up to three metres high, and snow, would continue until the end of this week.

In response to the harsh weather conditions, the Palestinian Ministry of Works said that its rescue teams were ready to deal with any emergencies.

However, the ministry complained of severe shortages of emergency equipment due to the Israeli-led siege, as the Israeli occupation authorities do not allow many of the related machinery, including pumps, steel cables and pipes, to be imported.

The ministry also warned that old pumps might not work properly. This prompted fears of flooding and high water levels in low-lying residential areas.

In January 2015, 2016 and 2017, Gaza suffered massive floods and thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes during heavy storms.

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is now the head of the Hamas political bureau, took part personally in rescue efforts in 2015.

The situation in Gaza deteriorated after major Israeli military offensives severely damaged sewage, water and communication infrastructure, aside from the appalling human losses

The Palestinian Civil Defence put its staff on alert, fearing any emergency across the Gaza Strip, where the sewage system and rainwater pumps are not functioning fully due to the decade-long Israeli siege.

Thousands of Gaza residents are still living in makeshift tents and caravans after their houses were destroyed during the 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014.

Others are living in partly damaged properties which are susceptible to rainwater and the cold weather as they have not been repaired following the Israeli offensive.

(Source / 21.01.2020) 

Russia honours Palestine doctor as best cardiologist in 2019

A doctor 'scrubbing in' before a surgery [file photo]

A doctor ‘scrubbing in’ before a surgery [file photo]

The Russian Ministry of Health has honoured Palestinian doctor, Imad Meri, as the best cardiology and resuscitation doctor in 2019, Palestine Information Centre (PIC) reported on Friday.

According to the PIC, Meri was hailed as the best doctor as a result of a series of achievements during his career.

The attendants present at the ceremony in Moscow expressed their pride in the Palestinian doctor, who studied and worked in the Russian capital, where he has been known for his professionalism and dedication to his work.

The doctor, who is a Palestinian refugee from El-Buss refugee camp in Lebanon, was honoured for his commitment to his work.

(Source / 04.01.2020) 

Chile doctors carry out surgeries in Gaza

3 volunteer medical teams from South America and Italy crossed into the Gaza Strip to start providing medical care for injured and sick children, as well as training for local doctors 

A Chilean team of orthopaedic surgeons is carrying out urgent operations in the European Hospital in southern Gaza city of Khan Yunis, Al-Resalah newspaper reported yesterday.

Doctor Lautaro Campos headed the team which arrived in the Strip on Friday and is expected to leave tomorrow evening.

In a statement, the Palestinian orthopaedic surgeon Jamal Abu-Hilal said that the three-member team carried out 16 surgeries and they are expected to carry out 30 more.



This week, our volunteer orthopedic surgery team from Argentina arrived in Gaza to provide surgery for in-need children. The team screened over 80 children on their first day, scheduling 44 for surgery.

We are honored to work with these great surgeons from South America.

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1722:26 – 20 Jul 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy See The PCRF’s other Tweets   

The team is visiting Gaza for the second time in coordination with Palestine Children Relief Society. The first visit took place a year ago.

Abu-Hilal hoped that such visits will continue in order to help patients in need of urgent surgeries, to reduce the waiting lists and train local doctors.

READ: Israel prevented 763 Palestinians patients from leaving Gaza

(Source / 24.07.2019) 

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.


Infographic by The White Canvas

(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) 

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)

Patients in Need of Specialized Care May Go to Hospitals in Jordan, Egypt

29 APR9:25 AM

Mai Alkaila, the newly appointed Palestinian Minister of Health said Sunday that the government is seeking a replacement option to the specialized care offered in Israel, reported Wafa News.

Last month the Palestinian Ministry of Health stopped transferring patients to Israeli hospitals, this was in response to the Israeli refusal millions of dollars in tax revenues collected on behalf of Palestinians.

Alkaila said that the decision not to send patients to Israel will not affect the care for patients with diseases beyond the expertise of Palestinian health care system, as these patients will potentially be transferred to local private hospitals, or to adjacent countries such as Egypt and Jordan.

She added that the main goal of the Ministry is to localize health services, attract medical practitioners, and provide high quality, safe health care.

(Source / 29.04.2019)