The Minister of Health in Gaza has urged the international community to put pressure on Israel and Egypt to lift the siege and allow medicines, medical supplies and basic construction material to be allowed into the beleaguered territory. Dr Mofeed Mokhalalati said that the health sector in the Gaza Strip faces a real disaster under the tightened siege following the closure of the Rafah border crossing by the Egyptian government.
"Of the medicines on the essential drugs list," said Dr Mokhalalati, "145 items have completely run out." The Rafah closure, he added, also means that there are around 1,000 patients who are unable to be sent for specialist treatment in Egypt, in addition to 300 more who have been referred there by the health ministry.
The minister pointed out that the border closure also deprives patients in the Gaza Strip of the services of visiting medical professionals who travel to the territory to share their skills and perform life-saving surgery free of charge.
Appealing to the people of Egypt to ease the suffering of their brothers and sisters in Gaza, Dr Mokhalalati warned that the shortage of diesel fuel is having a major effect on the ability of hospitals and medical centres to function properly. "Health centres alone each need 360 litres a month for emergency generators as the electricity supply is only connected for 12 hours a day," he said.
Dr Mokhalalati urged human rights organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the World Health Organisation to support Palestinians' right to health provision and their freedom of movement. He appealed for urgent supplies of medicines, disposables, medical supplies and fuel to keep the health sector operating across Gaza.