A shipment of urgently needed, government subsidised medical aid arrived in Gaza yesterday from the Palestinian Authority (PA), the first delivery of its kind in eight months, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The PA Healthy Ministry spokesman Osama Al-Najjar confirmed the delivery last night: “Twenty-two trucks of medications were dispatched to Gaza. This is our first major shipment of medications since February.”
The total value of the medicines sent is estimated to be some $2.2 million.
According to Najjar, since February, the PA has sent only two trucks of medicine on three separate occasions otherwise this year – in March, May and July.
Until the Palestinian reconciliation last month, medical funding to the Strip had been cut by Israel at the request of the PA, in an attempt to pressure Gaza’s de-facto government Hamas into relinquishing control.
Human rights organisations strongly condemned the move; in August, Oxfam termed such tactics a “punishment on the entire nation” and called on the PA not to use civilians as a bargaining tool.
The Strip has been facing a mounting humanitarian emergency for many months, confronted with an energy, water and health care crisis. Residents have been receiving a maximum of two to four hours of electricity each day, making fresh water and sewage systems inoperable.
An estimated 40 per cent of necessary drugs have been unavailable or were insufficiently stocked, while patients requiring urgent treatment are prevented from leaving due to the ongoing blockade. In August, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights estimated that some 15 Gaza residents have died since the start of 2017 after Israel denied terminally ill patients the necessary permits to travel outside the besieged Strip for medical treatment.
In recent weeks since the reconciliation, the PA has assumed control of various aspects of Gaza’s governance, and made an effort to rehabilitate parts of the Strip.
Last month, the PA’s Economic Minister and Head of General Commission of Industrial Zones Abeer Odeh announced the launch of three infrastructure projects funded by the EU to create an industrial zone in Gaza. The project is due to be completed in two months.