Israel's siege of Gaza has caused health, humanitarian catastrophe, says report

Israel's siege of Gaza has caused health, humanitarian catastrophe, says report
Research by Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights shows how Israel's 'stifling restrictions' and 'repeated military attacks' have damaged Gaza's medical system.
2 min read
15 June, 2022
Gaza's medical system has suffered under 15 years of Israeli siege [Salwan Georges/The Washington Post/Getty-file photo]

Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip has caused a health and humanitarian catastrophe, two pro-Palestine NGOs said on the blockade's 15th anniversary.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), which is headquartered in the UK, and the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said the situation is getting worse each year, as the two released a joint report on Wednesday.

The research shows how Israel's "stifling restrictions" and "repeated military attacks" have damaged the Strip's medical system and "routinely" stopped patients accessing "essential and potentially life-saving care".

"For 15 years Israel has denied Palestinians in Gaza their most basic rights to health and dignity," said MAP Gaza director Fikr Shalltoot.

"We are living in intolerable conditions with a health system constantly on the verge of collapse.

"The international community must pressure Israel to immediately end its blockade, which is the root cause of the seemingly endless healthcare disaster we face."

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Israel's shutdown and siege of Gaza is "illegal" and a form of "collective punishment", a press release on MAP's website said.

It said many crucial drugs are severely lacking in Gaza, and medical equipment and components are often stopped from coming in.

Meanwhile, health workers are regularly forbidden from leaving to receive training, and many key services are absent from the Strip.

This forces patients to seek care at hospitals in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, or overseas, but this requires an exit permit issued by Israel.

Last year, 36 percent of the over 15,000 requests made were denied, delayed or did not receive a reply, stopping people from receiving treatment.

Al Mezan and MAP helped 635 patients who required assistance securing permits last year.

Their assistance saw 39 percent of these people issued permits, showing the "arbitrariness of the initial decisions and delays", MAP's press release said.

"Israel's closure and blockade have turned the Gaza Strip into an unliveable place," Al Mezan director Issam Younis said.

"On this grim anniversary, we must address the root causes of this ongoing crisis, which lie in Israel's systemic discrimination against Palestinians, its perpetual occupation of Palestine and its chronic culture of impunity."

MAP's press release urged countries to help end Israel's siege of Gaza and to provide the Strip with further support to facilitate its medical system's sustainable development.