GAZA CITY: The Palestinian Ministry of Health has accused Israel of banning necessary medical equipment from entering Gaza Strip hospitals for more than a year.
The Hamas-run ministry in Gaza said the lives of patients in Gaza are at grave risk because Israel is not allowing the entry of medical equipment.
The ministry said that Israel’s ban on medical diagnostic devices was a violation of Palestinians’ right to treatment, which is guaranteed by international humanitarian law.
Medhat Abbas from the Ministry of Health highlighted the crisis at the end of a demonstration in which dozens of ambulances and medical teams participated at the Erez Crossing, at the northern end of the Gaza Strip.
They drove along the road parallel to the eastern border until they reached the location where the Great Return March demonstrations took place a few years ago, east of Gaza City.
Abbas said the Israeli occupation has prevented the entry of interventional catheter devices, digital X-ray machines and mobile X-ray machines.
The ban is not limited to medical equipment needed for hospitals in Gaza. It is also preventing the entry of spare parts for broken equipment in Gaza and the transfer of equipment for repair outside, Abbas said.
He accused Israel of exposing patients in intensive care and those with cancers, heart diseases, strokes and complex fractures to health risks as they are being deprived of devices that identify health problems and the required medical interventions.
The Ministry of Health called on the relevant bodies to put direct pressure on Israel to bring in medical and diagnostic equipment and spare parts for broken equipment to save patients in the Gaza Strip from the “guillotine of the occupation and the blockade by providing for their full treatment needs.”
Patients are forced to transfer to other hospitals outside the Gaza Strip, including hospitals in Jerusalem or the West Bank, and some in Egypt and Jordan, in order to obtain a diagnosis before starting treatment due to the lack of medical equipment.
Samir Abu Al-Enein, 55, said he had to wait for two months until he obtained a medical referral and an Israeli permit to travel to Jerusalem for examinations at Augusta Victoria Hospital.
“I was diagnosed with cancer several months ago. Before that, there were suspicions on the part of the attending physician, but he was unable to identify the disease until after I got a diagnosis in Jerusalem, and I had to wait a long time until I got the necessary papers,” Abu Al-Enein told Arab News.
He added: “It is not enough that we suffer from diseases. We suffer from waiting also and the fear that treatment will not be available. Many of the medicines that the doctor prescribed for me are often not available, and I have to wait a long time until they are.”
Obtaining a medical referral to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip involves a long series of bureaucratic procedures.
Patients also suffer while waiting for a pass from Israel to Jerusalem and the West Bank, with dozens of them facing Israeli security bans.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights warned of the serious repercussions resulting from Israel’s continued block on important equipment, which is needed to save the lives of thousands of patients in Gaza Strip hospitals.
“The primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the population of the Gaza Strip lies with the Israeli occupation, according to Articles (55) and (56) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949,” said the center.
More than 2.3 million people in Gaza “depend on governmental health facilities to receive treatment, while these facilities suffer from serious deterioration as a result of the blockade policy imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities on the Strip for more than 15 years,” it said.
The center added that the “internal Palestinian division resulted in the fragility of the health system, and a permanent shortage in the list of essential medicines and medical devices, in addition to the shortage of specialized medical staff.”