Health in Gaza Since the Great March of Return 2018

Palestinian NGOs report on the recent health situation since the “Great March of Return”

From: Ayed Yaghi

Below is the report published by PNGO Network on the recent situation of health sector.

Report version of English here and Arabic available on demand to pmrs.gaza@gmail.com

Palestinian NGOs report on the recent health situation since the “Great March of Return”

On March 30, 2018 which marked the 42nd annual commemoration of Land Day also the day Palestinian factions billed as a peaceful “March of Return”, over two hundred fifty thousand gathered to advocate for the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homelands in historic Palestine, now present-day Israel. Palestinians also protested against the 11-year continuous blockade on the Gaza Strip, with dire socioeconomic & severe humanitarian conditions, encompassing shortages in basic needs, such as water, food, and medical equipment, and the destruction of all aspects of life therein. In response, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) had murdered 30 Palestinians, wounded 3078; including 1043 Palestinians civilians including 305 children & 370 women injured by live bullets & explosives.

Palestinian health NGOs worked with Ministry of Health responded to medical emergency needs. Health NGOs provided first aid and medical services to more than 406 since the beginning of the events, in addition to transferring more than 71 cases to hospitals. NGOs also worked really hard to provide blood units for various hospitals, including many blood donation campaigns resulting in the 1098 blood units sent to both governmental and non-governmental health centers.

Palestinian Health NGOs in the Gaza Strip are working under very difficult conditions; the health sector suffers from severe shortage of medicines and medical consumables as a result of 11 years of blockade and closure. The resource crisis has been exacerbated by the events of the” Great March of Return” and the influx of Palestinian civilian casualties has posed a difficult challenge for the medical staff as the available quantities of medicines and medical consumables have been consumed. Therefore, urgent financial & medical mobilization is needed otherwise more Palestinians civilians including women and children will die.

The medical personnel also work under threat of occupation live fire, which targets all Palestinians without any exception; peaceful demonstrators, journalists or paramedics despite the wearing of vests that clearly indicate their work. However, the systematic occupation policy of targeting field medical teams in order to obstruct their work in the evacuation and transfer of the injured, directly caused the injury of the volunteer medic in the MRS, Ahmed Abu El-ola shot in both feet and underwent a surgery in the European hospital in Gaza. MoH declared that the total number of casualties among the medical personnel is 12 wounded, in addition to targeting 4 ambulances, in clear violation of the 4thGeneva Convention for the protection of civilians.

These frequent blatant attacks on civilians constitute explicit war crimes that violate the principles of IL and are contrary to international norms and conventions of IHL.

Challenges:

  • The severe shortage of medicines and medical consumables
  • Lack of financial and technical resources for hospitals and medical centers
  • Shortage of International Humanitarian Aid for health NGOs reduced their ability to provide the necessary medical services
  • Lack of international protection for health personnel, civil defense and journalists
  • Lack of accountability by the international community to the Israeli occupation for the violation of IHRL and IHL through targeting civilians, journalists’ and health personnel.

 

Recommendations:

  • Lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip now and allow the entering of all medicines and medical supplies, facilitate the movement of patients
  • Demand the international community and their human rights institutions to provide protection to health personnel as well as to civilian demonstrators participating in the peaceful demonstrations.
  • Hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the crimes committed against our people, especially the attacks committed against the civilian demonstrators and health personnel in the peaceful March of Return.
  • Call donors to expedite the provision of financial support to health organizations to enable them to provide medical services in light of the significant increasing numbers of casualties during the March of Return.
  • Exert efforts to end the political divide and activate the National Reconciliation Government to take over its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, especially the Ministry of Health to promote and develop health services and protect the right to health.

This report covers the work of 5 members of PNGO Health Sector (UHWC, PMRS, UHCC, PAH, and CBBS).

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