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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Call for Gaza patients' safety

10th July 2007

Human rights groups based in Israel have called on the government to open Gaza's borders, which it controls, and for local factions to end fighting in and around hospitals there.


Recent fighting between Fatah and Hamas factions in the Gaza Strip has led to around 120 deaths, with some fighting taking place in and near hospitals.

Some witnesses report that injured people coming into hospitals have been shot by militants inside hospital buildings.

A joint position paper issued by several groups said rescue personnel were unable to cooperate in the wake of the collapse of infrastructure following an economic boycott of the territory and the extended siege of the Palestinian Authority.

"The first victims are those injured in the fighting who the Gazan hospitals are unable to treat properly," said Ibrahim Habib, field coordinator for the occupied territories at Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

"In addition, there are hundreds of people waiting for medical treatment in Egypt or Jordan, as well as people (some of whom are trapped at the Erez border crossing) who are in urgent need of additional, lifesaving medical care in Israel."

Gaza's health system is totally dependent on Israel, and cannot provide for all the population's needs. Palestinian health officials say that more than 40 patients are in urgent need of medical treatment in Israel.

Doctors in the territory report a severe shortage of anaesthesia equipment, hypodermic needles and metal plates for organ implants.

Last week Physicians for Human Rights and the Tel Aviv-based Gisha Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement, called on the defence ministry to allow patients through the checkpoint for treatment. They followed it up with a petition to Israel's High Court.

Defence minister Ehud Barak agreed to allow the patient transfers, but so far no reliable mechanism has been established for this, and many are still in Gaza.

Juma Saka, a doctor in Shifa Hospital, Gaza's main hospital, said: "The equipment shortages affect our ability to provide vital treatment. We have decided to postpone non-critical medical procedures. The hospital is operating beyond 120% capacity."

"The medical staff are suffering from fear and terror, particularly of the Hamas fighters, who are in every corner of the hospital."

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