Alwaght- Defeated in all wars it waged against Gaza-based resistance groups in recent years and incapable of blocking their further power gain, the Israeli regime is now resorting to other options to pressurize the enclave’s Palestinians. Since 2006 maintaining an all-out blockade on Gaza and disconnecting it from the outer world, Tel Aviv has not stopped at this point and expanded the domain of pressures on them continuously.
In this regard, the spokesperson of Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qadrah said in a latest report on Israeli crimes that it has been 394 days since Israel authorities prohibited the entry of medical and diagnostic equipment into the Gaza Strip, a measure endangering the lives of patients, increasing their suffering, and violating their most basic rights for treatment guaranteed by the principles of human rights and international laws and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Al-Qadrah asserted that the Israelis during years of blockade have been denying the Palestinians their legal right to access medicines and treatment out of Gaza.
“The occupation’s crimes against humanity continue, and they prevent the entry of essential medical and diagnostic devices for the people of Gaza in a new way. In addition to preventing the entry of the machines needed to treat stroke patients and prevent their paralysis, the Israelis have also prevented the entry of four mobile X-ray machines. This machine is used to diagnose fractures in body inside the operating room. This hostile approach puts the lives of tumor patients, those with heart problems, strokes, complex fractures and special care patients at risk. They are deprived of the necessary treatment due to the lack of diagnostic devices,” he was quoted as saying.
This Gaza health official added that the Israeli regime deliberately deprives these patients in the Gaza Strip of medical rights against the international legal standards, therefore, the full responsibility for the patients’ lives and meeting their medical needs lies with the Israelis.
Israel blocked entry of medical equipment to Gaza as a deal to swap prisoners with Hamas missed conclusion and the Israelis resorted to humanitarian pressures to put strains on the resistance movement. With such measures, Tel Aviv is trying to incite the people of Gaza against Hamas in order to make concessions to the occupation, but these tactics have not been successful so far, and the bonds between the people and the resistance groups are growing stronger day by day.
At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak, the Israelis blocked aids to Gaza. In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Gaza described the Covid-19 outbreak rate worrisome and warned about shortage in healthcare equipment. But the Israeli government declined to help or even issue permission for foreign help.
Tel Aviv even disposed of hundreds of thousands of surplus doses of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines and did not allow them to be supplied to the Palestinians. The unsettled health and medical situation in Gaza progressed to the point where the UN had to react, and in May 2021, after the end of the 11-day war, it approved a draft resolution on the health conditions of Palestine in the World Health Assembly in order to set the context for sending international aids but these efforts went nowhere.
Destruction of hospitals, a perpetual Israeli crime
With an area of 360 square kilometers and a population of about 2 million, Gaza is the most densely populated region on the Earth. This large population, in addition to the grave living conditions, is denied basic medical services and this is part of a broader genocide campaign in place for decades against the Palestinians.
Over the past decade, Tel Aviv waged several wars against Gaza, where medical centers and hospitals are regular targets of heavy bombardment.
During the 51-day war in Gaza in July 2014, Israeli warplanes targeted Al-Shafa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, during which a number of children were killed. Reports suggested that due to the lack of sufficient medical centers, some of the wounded people were treated in makeshift hospitals.
According to the UN report, 17 hospitals and 56 health centers were destroyed. Also, 45 ambulances were damaged and 511 of the 2,217 Palestinians who died in these attacks had no access to healthcare facilities.
In December 2020, Israeli warplanes bombed children’s hospital in Gaza, stirring waves of international reactions. These crimes are committed while Israeli officials claim that their bombings only target Hamas and Islamic Jihad sites and most of the attacks target non-civilian centers. In May 2021 war, Israeli jets repeatedly raided Gaza medical centers, killing a number of their personnel.
Attacks on hospitals and schools are a war crime, says the Vienna Convention, but the Israeli regime shows no commitment to these international principles and has committed all kinds of crimes against the Palestinians in the past seven decades, and the UN resolutions failed to set up a deterrence against it.
According to a report published by WAFA news agency in 2020, 34 hospitals are active in Gaza, 14 of them state-funded, 17 local, and 3 private. This number of hospitals is adequate to treat Palestinian patients if war is not waged by Tel Aviv and health and medical equipment are provided to them in time and as needed. But Israelis block entry of medical equipment to this flashpoint region, increasing the number of patients day by day.
Two weeks ago, Ibrahim Abbas, Director of the Department of Radiology and Technical Imaging of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said that due to the Israeli blocking of entry of imaging machines, every day, at least 350 patients in Gaza suffer from diagnostic problems and even their lives are endangered.
Unlike the West Bank that is provided with medical budget by Tel Aviv, Gaza has no foreign medical funding and even humanitarian aids are not delivered because of blockade more than 15-years-old.
In August, the UN spokesperson announced in a report that $510 million are needed to provide water, food and health services in Gaza, but only 25 percent of these resources have been delivered to this region, which is scanty.
Israelis even withhold water
The shortage in Gaza is not just in medical equipment, and other sectors are far from satisfying and even in critical conditions. Gazans have no adequate fresh water resources, a problem compounded by the Israelis.
In November 2021, the Middle East Eye news website reported about inappropriate fresh water conditions in Gaza, showing that one-fourth of the wide-spread diseases derive from contaminated water and the residents and farmers avoid drinking tap and well water for their health. According to the report, the long-term blockade has caused the contamination of 97 percent of Gaza’s water resources, and the number of Palestinian patients has also increased due to the use of this water. The European human rights watch reported last year that 12 percent of the deaths of children in Gaza are due to intestinal diseases related to contaminated water.
In 2020, UNICEF estimated that only 10 percent of the population in besieged Gaza has direct access to clean water, and 90 percent has no access to tapped water, and people have to pay high for fresh and bathing water.
Also, Oxfam reported that 400,000 people in Gaza do not have access to water due to the severe destruction of infrastructure. In the absence of clean water, the number of kidney failure patients in Gaza increases by 14 percent every year, and these crimes are carried out in the shadow of silence of sham human rights advocates.
The Israeli regime intends to put pressures on Gazans and resistance groups for concessions using medical and health sanctions beside blockade. But the more these pressures increase, the stronger the Palestinians will grow to fight occupation, and, indeed, these inhumane actions cannot push the Palestinians back from the path of struggle for liberation.