- Since being locked down and isolated by Israel, Gaza
has experienced complete systemic crisis. Its health system, especially,
was gravely harmed.
- Many services and life-saving treatments aren't available.
Accessing them elsewhere is uncertain and tenuous. Treating chronic illnesses
is jeopardized by inadequate medicines and proper equipment.
- Regular Israel incursions and air attacks exacerbate
bad conditions. So do deficient fuel and electricity supplies, as well
as unsafe drinking water and other health hazards.
- Conditions are getting worse, not better. In September
Physicians for Human Rights/Israel (PHR/I) said:
- "Israel glaringly violate(s) the rights of Palestinians
to health, each time in a different manner." It said the right to
health "extends to (its) underlying determinants, (including) food
and nutrition, housing, access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation,
safe and healthy working conditions, and a healthy environment."
- By imposing draconian impediments, Palestinians, especially
Gazans, lack proper health services. As a result, lives are lost and human
- "As these lines are being written, we are witnessing
a grave crisis in the Gaza health system." Its Ministry of Health
reports dozens of medications in short supply or exhausted. Moreover, 123
types of medical equipment are unavailable. Dozens of others need replacing.
- Israel's Gaza policy is "humanitarian minimum."
Often it's non-existent. Gaza lurches from one crisis to another. Duct
tape solutions won't solve it.
- Absent change, "it is difficult to anticipate an
end to the daily suffering of the sick and infirm individuals residing
in these territories," especially besieged Gazans.
- As an occupying power, Israel bears full responsibility.
Nonetheless, it willfully and systematically breaches its international
law obligations. As a result, Gazans suffer horrifically, especially on
accessing healthcare when it's most needed.
- On December 4, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights
(PCHR) expressed concern over medical shortages in Gaza's hospitals, saying:
- Critical shortages of medicines affect healthcare. Repercussions
are potentially catastrophic, "especially (for) patients and those
suffering chronic diseases...."
- According to Ministry of Health Director General of Pharmacy
Dr. Muneer al-Bursh, health facilities and warehouses exhausted 120 essential
medicines and 140 medical goods.
- In 2011, Ramallah's Ministry of Health supplied only
20% of Gaza's medicinal needs. Shortages of goods like Blood Line used
in dialyses threatens the lives of 400 patients currently.
- Moreover, medicines for cancer, anesthesia, immune system
inhibiters for kidney transplant patients (received abroad), and hemophilia
have run out entirely.
- At the same time, Ramallah Minister of Health director
Dr. Fathi Abu Mughli said West Bank hospitals have adequate supplies. In
fact, he claimed they're better stocked than in other regional countries,
except when warehouse deliveries are delayed by Israeli imposed policies.
Even so, alternative drugs and treatment are available.
- Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials haven't addressed
the problem. As a result, dozens of lives are endangered, especially after
the Ministry of Health decreased transferring critically ill patients for
treatment "under the claim of rationalizing medical transfers from"
- On November 2, Ramallah's Ministry of Health decreased
transfers to Israeli and other hospitals. At issue was cost, it was claimed.
When possible, accessing treatment in Israel is preferable because of proximity
compared to Egypt and Jordan.
- Cancer patients are especially at risk. Treatment isn't
available in Gaza. Often it's lacking in West Bank and East Jerusalem hospitals.
As a result, "(t)wo children died as they urgently needed advanced
medical treatment, but the Ministry of Health transferred them to hospitals
that cannot treat their diseases."
- On November 4, Mohammed Azzam Sahwil died from growth
retardation and muscle atrophy. In serious condition, he was admitted to
Gaza's al-Nasser Hospital's intensive care unit.
- The Ministry of Health officials knew his situation.
On October 25, Form No. 1 to receive medical treatment abroad was obtained.
On November 2, financial coverage was gotten for treatment at Jerusalem's
al-Maqassed Hospital. He was refused admittance for lack of ability to
- The Ministry of Health was informed but didn't act. As
a result, he died at Gaza's al-Nasser Hospital. Less than a month later,
his sister, Hiba Azzam Sahwil, also succumbed from the same illness.
- She also got permission for treatment abroad and financial
coverage at Jerusalem's al-Maqassad Hospital. An appointment was arranged
for December 13. However, she'd already deteriorated too much to help.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Health was asked to immediately transfer her
to Israel's Ekhilov Hospital. It refused. On December 1, she died.
- A third sibling suffers from the same disease, Ayat Azzam.
She also got permission for outside treatment and financial coverage. Ramallah's
Health Ministry was urged to save her. On December 1, admittance to Israel's
Ekhilov Hospital was gotten.
- PCHR is following her case to help. It also wrote West
Bank Director General of Medical Insurance Nizar Masalma, "demanding
(he) allow 24 patients who suffer from serious chronic diseases continue
to receive treatment in advanced medical facilities." So far, he hasn't
- A Final Comment
- The Palestine News & Information Agency (WAFA) headlined,
"Official Warns of Israel Ethnic Cleansing Policy in (East) Jerusalem,"
- PLO Jerusalem affairs head Ahmed Qurei warned of "Israel's
quiet ethnic cleansing and displacement policy against" East Jerusalem
- Home demolitions are responsible in East Jerusalem's
Old City, as well as in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and other Palestinian neighborhoods.
He stressed that Israel plans Judaizing all Jerusalem, one home demolition
at a time.
- Meanwhile, UNWRA (UN Relief and Works Agency) spokesman
Chris Gunness said 2011 Israeli home demolitions doubled last year's total.
- Its research found 990 Palestinians, including 507 children,
were displaced. About 515 West Bank and East Jerusalem structures were
demolished. Gunness called losing a home in normal times "highly destabilizing,
but in the context of occupation and annexation it often becomes lastly
traumatic, especially for children."
- "The United Nations calls on the Israeli authorities
to abide by their obligations under international law, of which these displacements
and demolitions are a clear violation."
- "Call(ing) on" has no impact. Only policy measures
with teeth can help. For decades, they've been sorely lacking. As a result,
Israel literally gets away with crimes of war and against humanity, including
ethnically cleansing Palestinians from all land it wants for Jewish only
- Instead of acting responsibly for justice, world leaders
support Israel's worst policies. Palestinians pay dearly, especially Gazans
suffocating needlessly under siege.
- Moreover, according to former IDF head General (ret.)
Yoav Galant, military action is needed to root out Gaza's "terror
infrastructure." In other words, he urges mass murder.
- In addition, Haaretz said Netanyahu cares only about
power and "giving in to cronyism and vested interests."
- Like America, Israel's decaying from within. Both countries
use militarism, conflict and violence to solve problems. Popular needs
- Palestinians and Israeli Arabs suffer horrifically. So
do deprived and persecuted Americans. Both countries are global bullies.
They're rogue state partners in intimidation, state terror, and torment.
- Their leaders are moral cowards. Calling them democracies
is ludicrous and offensive. Nations that live by the sword, die by it.
- Israel and America aren't exceptions. Nor are others
that learned painful lessons the hard way.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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