Health funding gap means 1,700 in Gaza may face amputations

A medics worker helps a wounded youth, who was shot by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, into the treatment room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Friday, May 3, 2019. Three Palestinians, including two militants, were killed by Israeli fire Friday after gunshots from the Gaza Strip wounded two Israeli soldiers, officials said, in a new flare-up that shattered a month-long easing of hostilities that was mediated by Egypt. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Updated 08 May 2019

Health funding gap means 1,700 in Gaza may face amputations

GENEVA: A lack of health funding in Gaza means 1,700 people shot by Israeli security forces may have to have amputations in the next two years, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for occupied Palestinian territory, said Wednesday.
McGoldrick said 29,000 Palestinians had been wounded in protests in the past year, and 7,000 of them had gunshot wounds, mostly in the lower legs.
“You’ve got 1,700 people who are in need of serious, complicated surgeries for them to be able to walk again,” McGoldrick said.
“These are people who have been shot during the demonstrations and who are in need of rehabilitation, and very, very serious and complex bone reconstruction surgery over a two year period before they start to rehabilitate themselves.”
Without those procedures, all these people are at risk of needing an amputation, he said.
The UN is seeking $20 million to fill the gap in health spending.
A lack of funding to the World Food Programme and UNRWA, the UN humanitarian agency that supports Palestinians displaced by the 1948 war of Israel’s founding, also meant there could be an interruption of food supplies for 1 million people.
“If that stops, there is no alternative for people to bring food in from any other sources, because they don’t have purchasing power,” McGoldrick said.
WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel said a severe lack of funds meant WFP had cut aid for 193,000 people this year in the West Bank and Gaza, with 27,000 getting nothing and the rest getting only $8 per month instead of the usual $10.
Some 2 million Palestinians live in Gaza, the economy of which has suffered years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ West Bank-based rival.
People’s prospects were “precarious,” McGoldrick said. Gaza families averaged $4,000 of debt, while salaries averaged $400 per month, but 54 percent of the population was unemployed.
The health system was impoverished, with unpaid salaries and dilapidated equipment, and many medical professionals had left if they could find opportunities elsewhere.
One teaching hospital was now only teaching trauma medicine, McGoldrick said, but the doctors on the ground did not have the technical ability to carry out the treatment required for the people at risk of amputation.
There have already been 120 amputations, 20 of them in children, in the past year, he said.


From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

Updated 01 June 2020

From Jeddah to Jerusalem, the faithful return to their mosques

  • Doors open again after virus lockdown
  • Internal flights resume from Saudi airports

JEDDAH/AMMAN: It began at dawn. As the first light appeared on the horizon and the call to Fajr prayer rang out, Muslims from Riyadh to Madinah and Jeddah to Jerusalem returned to their mosques on Sunday after a two-month break that for many was unbearable.

More than 90,000 mosques throughout Saudi Arabia were deep cleaned and sanitized in preparation for the end of the coronavirus lockdown. Worshippers wore face masks, kept a minimum of two meters apart, brought their own prayer mats and performed the ablution ritual at home.

“My feelings are indescribable. We are so happy. Thank God we are back in His house,” said Abdulrahman, 45, at Al-Rajhi mosque in Riyadh, where worshippers had their temperatures checked before entering.

Television screens inside the mosque displayed written instructions, including the need to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Jerusalem, at 3:30 a.m. thousands crowded outside three gates assigned to be opened to allow Muslims to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Young and old, men and women, many with their phone cameras on, chanted religious songs as they waited to return for the first time since the virus lockdown began.

“Those wishing to pray were checked for their temperature and those without a mask were given one by Waqf staff. All were asked to stay a safe distance from each other when they prayed,” Mazen Sinokrot, a member of the Islamic Waqf, told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque told Arab News that enabling Muslims to pray in large numbers and according to health requirements had gone smoothly.

“People cooperated with the local Muslim authorities and followed the regulations.” The people of Jerusalem had shown a high degree of responsibility, he said.

Israeli police spokesman Miky Rosenfeld told Arab News that extra police units had been  mobilized in the old city of Jerusalem for the reopening of Al-Aqsa. 

“People arrived in the areas scheduled according to health and security guidelines,” he said.

Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former Minister for Jerusalem in the Ismael Haniyeh government in 2006, said people were happy to be able to pray once more at Islam’s third-holiest site.

“It is time to open a new page in cooperation with local institutions and with Jordan to regain all that has been lost over the years,” he told Arab News.

“The Waqf council has done a good job in dealing with the contradictions and pressures that they are under, which is like walking on a knife’s edge as they deal with the occupiers on the one hand and the health situation on the other, while also trying to be responsive to the desires of worshippers.”

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, commercial flights took to the air again, office staff returned to work and restaurants resumed serving diners as life began a gradual return to normal after the coronavirus lockdown.

Eleven of the Kingdom’s 28 airports opened on Sunday for the first time since March 21. “The progressive and gradual reopening aims at controlling the crowds inside airports because we want to achieve the highest health efficiency,” civil aviation spokesman Ibrahim bin Abdullah Alrwosa told Arab News.

No one without an e-ticket will be allowed into an airport, face masks must be worn and safe distancing observed, and children under 15 may not travel unaccompanied.