Political wrangling leaves Gaza patients stranded

Political wrangling leaves Gaza patients stranded
Updated 23 July 2012

Political wrangling leaves Gaza patients stranded

Political wrangling leaves Gaza patients stranded

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip: A dispute between rival Palestinian governments is preventing scores of Gaza patients from receiving urgent medical care abroad, officials said Sunday.
Israel and Egypt restricted movement in and out of Gaza after Hamas seized the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007, leaving him with parts of the West Bank.
Gaza offers only basic medical care, and patients seeking treatment abroad need to get a referral from a medical committee there before they can cross into Israel or Egypt. The committee technically reports to the West Bank government, but operates with the tacit support of the Hamas authorities in Gaza.
Last week, the West Bank’s health minister appointed a new board, replacing one that was appointed in 2009. After that decision, the medical committee stopped working, and patients could no longer get referrals.
Omar Nasser, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in the West Bank, said Hamas police entered the offices of the committee and expelled those working there after the new committee was appointed. Ashraf Al-Kidra, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, denied that security forces raided the committee offices. He said local employees refused to work with the newly appointed committee members.
Iyad Al-Alami of the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the political wrangling is hurting innocent patients.
Israeli officials said they have not received any requests from the Gaza committee for transferring patients since Wednesday.