Palestinian Authority 'slashes permits' for Gazans needing medical treatment

Palestinian Authority 'slashes permits' for Gazans needing medical treatment
2 min read
10 August, 2017
Fatah has dramatically reduced financial aid to Gazans seeking medical care outside of the blockaded strip, WHO figures show, as Abbas doubles down on Hamas.
Fatah has reduced financial aid to Gazans needing medical care outside of the strip [Getty]
The Palestinian Authority has dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Strip, World Health Organisation figures show, as President Mahmoud Abbas seeks to squeeze the Hamas-run enclave.

The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, the World Health Organisation said in a statement.

Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year.

The Palestinian Authority has officially denied any change in policy, but Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza's rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments.

"We will continue the gradual stopping of financial allocations to the Gaza Strip until Hamas commits to reconciliation," he said at the weekend. In a statement to AFP, Health Ministry official in Gaza Medhat Muhesan condemned the "punitive measures".

"We need international organisations to pressure Abbas' government to stop the punitive measures against Gaza," he said.

Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas' Fatah Movement in 2007 and the two have been at loggerheads since.

Gazans seeking medical care outside of the Strip must first apply to the Palestinian Authority for permission and financial aid, before seeking Israeli permits.

In June, Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said three infants had died over the past 24-hours after the Palestinian Authority refused to pay for their medical treatment in Israel.

Poverty is widespread in the enclave, with unemployment at some 42 percent, while advanced medical equipment is lacking.

The UN's top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories has previously warned politicising medical care was unacceptable.

"The Palestinian Authority has been taking certain measures to at least slow access to proper health care," Robert Piper told AFP.

"These sorts of measures for us are not acceptable."

Gaza is deteriorating "further and faster" than an earlier prediction made five years ago that said the enclave would become "unlivable" by 2020, the United Nations said last month.