The Palestinian Authority has reduced the number of medical referrals for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by 80 per cent, Quds Net News reported on Tuesday. According to rights groups, the PA has made this move as a way to put pressure on the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which effectively runs the besieged territory.
In a meeting organised by the Monitor of Policies and Palestinian Coalition, researcher Iyad Al-Ribahi said that the reduction of medical treatment referrals puts the life of thousands of patients at risk, especially following soon after another PA decision to force thousands of medical staff into early retirement.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Independent Committee for Human Rights, Dr Ammar Dweek, said that the reason given for the reduction of referrals touches on the basic rights of Palestinian citizens in Gaza. He pointed out that this is a matter of life and death, and called for practical measures and a lobbying campaign to reverse the decision. This, he said, should include the names and details of the patients affected directly; they are people, he insisted, not numbers.
Statistics issued by the relevant department in the Ministry of Health in Gaza show that the number of referrals in July 2017 was just 477, compared with 2,071 in July last year.
Dweek added that more than 400 patients from the Gaza Strip were summoned and investigated by the Israeli intelligence service Shin Bet at the Erez Border Crossing, as a condition for dealing with their applications for medical treatment referrals through the PA.
Representative of the World Health Organisation, Quds Net News reported, pointed out that the Rafah Border Crossing was not open for four consecutive months, and this made the conditions for the patients in Gaza much worse.