‘Headaches, fainting’, Palestinian prisoners suffer effects of Israel jamming devices

Art work used by Palestinians during a protest after Israeli forces stormed into Ofer prison beat prisoners in Ramallah on 23 January 2019 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Art work used by Palestinians during a protest after Israeli forces stormed into Ofer prison and beat prisoners in Ramallah on 23 January 2019

Palestinian prisoners are suffering from “depression, headaches and fainting” as a result of the jamming devices installed at a number of Israeli jails in which they are being detained, they said in a statement.

“The dangerous radiation” omitted by the devices are causing these symptoms, the statement continued, adding they fear this is just “the tip of the iceberg”.

Experts have said the devices can lead to “genetic deformities of human cells and cancer”. Forty prisoners who are battling cancer in Ras Al-Eid prison may have contracted the disease as a result of the devices, they added.

READ: PA pays stipends to martyrs’ families and prisoners 

Concluding their statement, the prisoners placed responsibility for their life on the Israeli occupation and stressed that they would not tone down their protests until the devices are removed.

Last week, Palestinian prisoners said Israel’s prison administration had installed jamming devices at a ward in the Ktz’iot Prison causing Palestinian prisoners to suffer from severe headaches.

The devices produce powerful radiation and stop radio and television signals from penetrating in to the area.

News reports have revealed that the devices were sent to Israel from a Chinese firm Decipro Technology Limited. With 40 such units received by Netline Communications Technologies in Tel Aviv on 29 November 2018.

(Source / 07.03.2019)

Palestinian prosthetics centre, providing limbs for those injured by Israel

Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return 

Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Prosthetic technicians make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

Palestinian prosthetic technicians have been working hard to make limbs for Gazans who have lost theirs while taking part in the Great March of Return.

The expertise they have amassed over the years, as a result of Israel’s repeated attacks on the enclave, has left them probably more efficient than their counterparts abroad.

Some 160 of those wounded during the protests have lost limbs, statistics from the Ministry of Health have revealed. This was a result of the occupation’s targeting of demonstrators  with live ammunition and explosives, fragments of which entered their bodies, tearing through their joints and limbs.

READ: Israel closes Gaza border blocking aid transfers

Gaza’s Artificial Limbs and Polio Centre (ALPC) in Gaza City was established in 1974 and operates with the technical support of the International Red Cross. Its Director Lotfi Mousa said that the Gaza Strip has developed an advanced centre which is improving day after day.

It deals with upper and lower limbs, he continued, and provides follow on care, while the technicians need to assess the amputee, taking in to account where the amputation is located and the patient’s fitness levels and weight over a number of months. This provides for a rehabilitation programme to be setup for the patient once the prosthetic limb has been made.

(Source / 06.03.2019) 

Slow death for Gaza cancer patients

Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip makes it difficult, if not impossible, for cancer patients to receive treatment. Over the last decade, Israel has controlled and restricted shipments of medicine, among other basic necessities, into Gaza. This often causes severe drug shortages in Gaza hospitals.

“I come to the hospital to receive treatment and I am surprised that there is no treatment,” Sabreen al-Najjar, 40, told The Electronic Intifada. Al-Najjar is one of many cancer patients in Gaza turned away by hospitals due to severe drug shortages. “It is unbelievable. They sentence us to death. A slow death,” she added. With the unreliable availability of medications, many patients try to receive treatment outside Gaza.

Israel denies many of those patients the permits necessary for them to leave the enclave and receive treatment in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or within Israel. More than 1,800 patients were denied permission to cross Erez checkpoint for healthcare in 2018, according to the World Health Organization, compared to approximately 700 denied in 2017.

 (Source / 25.02.2019)

Easing the Suffering of Pregnant Women at Al-Sahaba Clinic in Gaza

22 Feb 8:07 AM

photo: Hind Abu Jahal, a pharmacist at Al Sahaba, talks to a patient.

By Anera.org / Gaza/ PNN

Al Sahaba medical complex in Gaza City specializes in offering medical services to women at reproductive age and beyond. “Most of our patients need constant follow-up and check-ups to monitor the status of their fetus throughout the course of their pregnancy,” says Dr. Ziyad Siam, an obstetrician at Al Sahaba.

Providing proper maternity services in Gaza can present challenges. Dr. Siam points out that the Palestinian territory suffers from continual shortages of medicines and medical supplies. Should complications arise during pregnancy, patients have great difficulty in getting permits to access medical treatment outside of Gaza.

Women in Gaza rely heavily on Al Sahaba, where a large percentage of staff are women. Given the conservative culture of many communities in the area, having access to female medical practitioners is vitally important.

Staff are available to offer counseling and treatment around the clock. One patient comments, “I am more confident about sharing my symptoms with doctors at this center. And I feel that I have the privacy I need to speak freely.”

Anera staff with pharmacist Hind Abu Jahal and obstetrician Dr. Ziyad Siam at Al Sahaba in Gaza.

Anera staff with pharmacist Hind Abu Jahal and obstetrician Dr. Ziyad Siam at Al Sahaba in Gaza.

Heparin is An Essential Drug in Gaza

Esmat, one of the clinic’s patients, suffered two miscarriages before learning that she has a blood-clotting disorder.

“When I first found out [about my condition] I was four weeks pregnant. After the diagnosis I underwent tests and the doctor put me on heparin for the remainder of the pregnancy,” she said.

Heparin is widely used to prevent blood clots and associated complications of pregnancy. As Dr. Siam explains, “The risk is that when a clot forms it can get lodged in the umbilical cord, cutting off blood circulation to the baby. The medication thins out the blood and prevents any clots from forming.”

Dr. Ziyad Siam, an obstetrician at Al Sahaba, talks to a patient.

Dr. Ziyad Siam, an obstetrician at Al Sahaba, talks to a patient.

The donated medicine is made available at no charge to patients at Al Sahaba. Clinic pharmacist Hind Abu Jahal underscores to patients the importance of compliance with the instructed dose of heparin to ensure mother and child safety. Abu Jahal notes that heparin is typically unaffordable for all but a few in Gaza.

Most of the clinic’s patients come from the Al Shati refugee camp and surrounding areas. The “economic situation is tough in Gaza, let alone in the refugee camps where unemployment is probably higher than anywhere else,” Hind comments.

“I am so excited for the baby,” Esmat says cheerfully. “I am due five months from today!”

Human Interest 02/20/19 ANC Youth League Affirms Support For BDS

(Source / 23.02.2019)

PCHR: “On International Childhood Cancer Day, Israel and Political Division Deepens Struggle of Children with Cancer in Gaza Strip”

16 Feb 11:04 AM

Ref: 19/2019 – Date: 14 February 2019: International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD), which was founded in 2002 by Childhood Cancer International (CCI), is celebrated  around the world every year on 15 February to reduce children’s cancer incidence.

This occasion coincides with the deterioration of health conditions in the Gaza Strip and the increasing level of services that cancer patients receive, including children who were deprived of receiving the proper treatment in a clear violation of the children’s right to receive the highest attainable standard of health.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR’s) follow up, patients with cancer in the Gaza Strip, an estimated number of 8500 patients, including 640 children, face difficult health conditions for ongoing lack of medicine, medical supplies and diagnostic and therapeutic devices, shortage of oncologists, and the aggravation of the ongoing electricity crisis in hospitals. The Israeli restrictions imposed on the travel of children with cancer and their companions are considered as prominent obstacles that prevent these children from receiving their proper treatment.

Dr. Mohammed Abu Selmeya, Director of al-Rantissy Hospital for Cancer Treatment, which is the only hospital that provides cancer treatment for children in the Gaza Strip, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the number of children with cancer in the Gaza Strip has reached 640 children whose ages between one month and 12 years. He added that Leukemia is at the forefront of cancers affecting children in the Gaza Strip and then followed by lymphoma and brain cancer.

He stressed that the hospital faces difficulties in providing treatment services to these patients; most prominently is lack of medicines and medical supplies needed for their treatment, considering lack of Chemotherapy as the most serious problem facing these patients.

Abu Selmeya added that the hospital also faces difficulties in referring child patients to receive treatment abroad due to the travel restrictions imposed by the Israeli Authorities on the children in danger of dying for no reason and for long periods up to 3 months.

He elaborated that the Israeli authorities deprive several mothers and fathers of accompanying their children, who suffers from serious health conditions, during their treatment abroad.

Dr. Muneer al-Bursh, Director General of the Pharmacy Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that the shortage rate of medicines and drugs for treatment of cancer has reached unprecedented levels in 2018 as in July there was a shortage in 42 types of cancer-treatment drugs, i.e. 65% of medicines that cancer patients need.

He added that some of the medicines, which ran out of stocks, were the Chemotherapy drugs and the Neupogen injections used to boost cancer patients’ Immune system.  He elaborated that any delay in giving this medication would lead to complications, especially that cancer treatment is comprised of a 5-medicine protocol and so the lack of any of them would fail the whole treatment process.

He also said that the Israeli ban on the entry of diagnostic radiological devices needed for the diagnosis of cancerous tumors causes delayed detection of these tumors, obstructs the therapeutic intervention, and puts patients’ life at risk.

It should be noted that patients with cancer, especially children, who are referred to receive treatment abroad, face many obstacles that have negatively affected their health conditions.

According to the information available at the Coordination Department in the Ministry of Health, during 2018, the Israeli authorities obstructed the travel of 10,057 patients referred to receive treatment in the hospitals in Israeli or the West Bank.

The Israeli authorities adopt a series of restrictions that deliberately aim at depriving patients of receiving treatment abroad; most significantly depriving patients of traveling without any reason; depriving patients of traveling due to family-related reasons; arresting patients at Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing; blackmailing and bargaining patients to collaborate with the Israeli authorities; interrogating the Patients; delaying responses to their travel permits; disregard for patient’s appointments at hospitals and imposing tightening restrictions on the travel of patients’ companions.

On the other hand, the political division increasingly deteriorate the standard of health services provided by hospitals and medical centers to these residing the Gaza Strip.

The chronic shortage of specialized medical staff and the Palestinian government failing to allocate new posts in hospitals in the Gaza Strip and cutting the salaries to 263 employees working in the Ministry Of Health in Gaza during February, have negatively affected the quality of health services and put patients’ life at risk.

The employees, whose salaries were cut, are the backbone of the health sector in Gaza as they represent 67% of the medical specialists and 28% of the doctors in the Ministry of Health. During the past January, Ministry of Health had to minimize its services and stop operation of some health facilities due to the shortage of fuel needed to operate the generators in hospitals and medical centers in light of the ongoing electricity crisis.

PCHR is deeply concerned over the life of children with cancer in the Gaza Strip. Thus, PCHR:

– appeals the international organizations, including the United Nations specialized agencies, to immediately intervene to provide an immediate assistance for the health sector for guaranteeing the continuation of health facilities’ work in the Gaza Strip, especially the only hospital that provides treatment for cancer patients in the Gaza Strip.

– calls upon the international community to practice pressure on the Israeli authorities in order to end all restrictions imposed on patients’ travel, especially children with cancer who need special care.

– calls upon the international community to pressurize the Israeli authorities in order to allow the entry of all types of medicines and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip, including Radiological diagnostic devices for the diagnosis of cancerous tumors.

– appeals the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume their responsibilities and immediately intervene to guarantee the entry of all types of medicines and medical supplies needed for cancer treatment.

– Calls for the importance of coordination between the department of the Palestinian Health Ministry in each of Ramallah and Gaza to guarantee that every person enjoys their  right to health, including the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

(Source / 16.02.2019)

WHO: $32m Needed to Address Humanitarian Needs in the oPt

11 Feb 3:43 AM

Al-Awda hospital ER team providing emergency care to an injured patient. Credit: UHWC

A new report by WHO shows that, since the start of the mass demonstrations in Gaza, on 30 March, 2018, 261 people have been killed and a total of 27,942 people injured:

“13,174 were treated and discharged from the Trauma Stabilization Points (TSPs) and the remaining 14,768 casualties were transferred to MoH and NGO hospitals. 6,386 people had live ammunition gunshot wounds, of which 5,561 (87%) presented limb gunshot wounds.”

The report additionally said that, as the current fuel reserve for hospitals declines, mitigation measures continue to affect the health system, such as reduced sterilization, diagnostic imaging, cleaning, laundry and catering services. However, the Electricity Distributing Company has connected some of the hospitals with extra grid lines, which has in turn decreased the dependency on fuel to run-backup generators; in addition, ad-hoc donations from various charities have prevented the closure of hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health continues to highlight the potential threat facing the health sector, should the remaining fuel gets completely depleted.

The report added that chronic shortages of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies at all facility levels continue to pose major challenges for health services, saying that the Health Cluster requires $32 million USD to response to humanitarian needs in the oPt.

The Humanitarian Response Plan for the Health Cluster will target 900,000 people out of the 1.2 million identified as acutely in need of humanitarian health assistance.

(Source / 11.02.2019)

Cancer Patients Face Slow Death in Gaza

06 Feb 4:10 AM

About 8515 cancer patients in the Gaza Strip are facing a fate worse than death, as they do not have adequate resources for medical treatment, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights reported, according to Al Ray.

On Monday, World Cancer Day, the center published a report about the conditions of cancer patients in Gaza Strip.

The report explained that 607 cases of cancer were recorded among children, which constitutes 7% of the total number.

While the number of female cancer patients reached 4705, constituting 55.3% of the total number.

The center warned of the psychological and physical suffering of patients in Gaza, as a result of the weakness of the possibilities and the permanent shortage of equipment and diagnostic equipment, drugs and the inputs of operating equipment and therapeutic devices.

The center stressed that the big challenge facing cancer patients is the severe shortage in basic medications.

The average rate of deficit in the drugs needed to treat cancer and blood diseases was 58%, during 2018.

Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and the restriction of movement of patients constitute a violation that threatens the lives of patients since it deprives them of access to treatment.

38% of cancer patients in Gaza Strip could not leave Gaza to receive treatment abroad, while 5% of patients were detained.

PCHR documented the deaths of 45 cancer patients, between 2016 and 2018, due to Israeli restrictions, especially at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, in the northern Gaza Strip.

(Source / 06.02.2019)

8,515 cancer patients in Gaza

A hospital in Gaza [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

A hospital in Gaza 

The number of cancer patients in the Gaza Strip has risen to 8,515, including 608 children, the Palestinian Ministry of Health revealed in its latest statistics.

Patients’ suffering is compounded by the permanent shortage of equipment, drugs and medical supplies as a result of Israel’s stifling 12-year siege of  the enclave.

Some 4,705 women are amongst the cancer patients in the Strip, making up 55.3% of the total number of cases, the figures show.

There was a 58 per cent deficit in the drugs needed to treat cancer and blood disease patients in the Strip in 2018. These included 65 medicines, the ministry added.

READ: Medical crisis in Gaza is ‘grotesque’ warn European health professionals

(Source / 05.02.2019) 

Medical crisis in Gaza is ‘grotesque’ warn European health professionals

Palestinian paramedics carry an injured man after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians protesting in a "Great March of Return" demonstration in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on February 01, 2019 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian paramedics carry an injured man after Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians protesting in a “Great March of Return” demonstration in Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on February 01, 2019

A group of eminent medical and health professionals has drawn attention to the devastating situation in the hospitals across the Gaza Strip. In a letter to the British Medical Journal, Derek A Summerfield et al referred to the fact that last August they published a rapid response at bmj.com to publicise “the cumulatively devastating effects upon Gaza’s health system of 12 years of Israeli blockade and the strategy of de-development and impoverishment of Gazan society.” Israeli restrictions, they pointed out at the time, have produced chronic shortages of almost all essential medicines and hospital equipment, of fuel to run hospital generators, the cancellation of all elective surgery (affecting more than 6000 people), hospital closures, and many doctors and staff on reduced or no pay.

“Since last March,” they have now pointed out, “Israeli snipers have been firing military grade ammunition and maiming bullets at the border at unarmed demonstrators, killing 257 to date.” Indeed, this week BBC Radio 4 quoted the UN confirming that more than 23,000 Palestinians have been wounded.

Médecins Sans Frontières, the group explained, estimates that “…a massive 3,520 people will need further surgery…” far beyond the grossly depleted resources available. As the shooting on the nominal border continues, one person was killed on Friday 25 January, and 153 were injured, including 34 children, 5 women, 1 journalist, and 5 paramedics on duty. “Since March 2018, three clearly marked medics have been shot dead on duty, 580 have been wounded and 94 ambulances have been damaged.” (as reported by The New York TimesB’Tselem, and Mezan) The targeting of health workers, they stressed to the BMJ, is itself a war crime.

“We write again now at a point when Gaza’s hospitals are in particular peril of total shutdown because of lack of electricity or fuel to run generators.” To keep up the pressure of the siege, they noted, Israel rations the entry of fuel into Gaza, including imposing conditions on donors like Qatar. “One of the hospitals that nearly shut last week was Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital, which currently has 8 children in intensive care, 30 premature babies in the nursery, 100 other child in-patients, and 250 children attending the emergency department.”

They gave details of other hospitals suffering from the chronic shortages of medicines, medical disposables and fuel in the Gaza Strip: “Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital has 45 children with renal failure, 4 children in intensive care, 10 child in-patients with cancer, 70 others needing chemotherapy, 10 children with chronic lung disease, 5 with heart disease, and 10 with other diseases.” In a third hospital, Al-Najjar, which serves 263,000 people, there are 65 beds, including 23 for children. “It has 93 patients in renal failure, should provide key laboratory services, and sees hundreds of cases in its emergency department every day.” A fourth, the Eye Hospital, sees 2,500 cases and performs 250 surgical procedures monthly, including glaucoma, cataract and retinal surgery. “Around 1,250 patients with diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and chronic corneal conditions are threatened by loss of sight if services stop. Also living hand to mouth is the psychiatric hospital, which currently has 29 in-patients.”

The group of medical and health professionals described this as a “grotesque situation” and “a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention” that guarantees unfettered access to medical facilities for conflict-affected populations. “This is an intended element of the siege, and persists because no one with political clout challenges Israeli impunity. A UN General Assembly resolution last year has been simply ignored. And no sanctions have been requested yet.”

In closing, Mr Summerfield and the other signatories said that the Palestinians in Gaza are turning to the solidarity of the international community and to the UN for the lifting of the siege and for justice. “How much longer should they have to wait?” they asked.

The signatories of the letter to the British Medical Journal were: Derek A Summerfield, Hon Senior Clinical Lecturer, London Institute of Psychiatry; Vittorio Agnoletto, Professor in Globalisation and Public Health, University of Studies, Milan; Swee Ang, Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Barts Health, London; Andrea Balduzzi, researcher in Zoology, University of Genoa; Franco Camandona, Surgeon in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, E.O. Galliera Hospitals, Genoa; David Halpin, retired Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon, Exeter; Ghada Karmi, University of Exeter; Paola Manduca, retired Professor of Genetics and President, New Weapons Research Group-Onlus; Marina Rui, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Genoa; Gianni Tognoni, Mario Negri Institute, Milan; Guido Veronese, Associate Professor, Clinical and Community Psychology, University of Milano-Bicocca.

(Source / 02.02.2019) 

MSF doctors struggle with ‘bones pulverised by Israel bullets’ in Gaza

Protesters are seen at the Gaza border during the Great March of Return on 25 October 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

An injured Palestinian receives medical care after Israeli forces fired at Palestinians during the Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip on 5 November 2018

Doctors working with international charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) have described their grim task of “replacing the centimetres of bones pulverised by Israeli bullets in the bodies of protesters” in the occupied Gaza Strip.

In an update published yesterday, MSF describes how “the limited resources available on site, however, make it impossible to provide a viable solution for many of [the wounded protesters]”.

According to MSF, “in protests held along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel since 30 March 2018, 6,174 people have been injured by live bullets fired by the Israeli army”, with “nearly 90 per cent of those were injured in the lower limbs”.

READ: 254 Palestinians killed, 23,000 injured in Gaza protests

MSF has “provided care for around half of the wounded after their initial treatment in local hospitals”, adding that the wounds observed “have been unusually severe”.

“In half the cases, patients have complex open fractures – where the bone is exposed to the air – and severe tissue and nerve damage in most of the rest,” MSF added.

MSF is still taking care of 900 people in Gaza with gunshot wounds, with 302 operations taking place in December.

(Source / 25.01.2019)