Gaza Strip braces for health crisis amid fuel shortages

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 24.07.2018 23:41

The local health sector in the blockaded Gaza Strip stands on the verge of a "severe crisis" due to a chronic lack of fuel for emergency generators, according to Gaza's Health Ministry.

"What remains of a fuel grant… will only meet our electricity needs until the first or second week of next month," said Ashraf Abu-Mahadi, the head of the ministry's international cooperation department.

"This means Gaza's ongoing health crisis will only worsen, further disrupting basic health services," he warned.

According to Abu-Mahadi, hospitals in the Gaza Strip need at least 450,000 liters of fuel to continue operating each month. Emergency generators, he went on to explain, were needed to cope with frequent power outages, caused by Israel's ongoing blockade, that can sometimes last for up to 16 hours at a stretch.

Abu-Mahadi called on local, Arab and international institutions to take all steps necessary to ensure Gaza's continued access to adequate fuel supplies.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. In the long-embargoed enclave, the humanitarian situation has gotten worse each day. Israel partially reopened its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip yesterday after a two-week closure prompted by border tensions.

Fuel trucks began entering through the Kerem Shalom crossing at noon, while food and medicine deliveries that had not been subject to the closure were set to continue. But other types of goods will remain off-limits.

The blockaded Palestinian enclave was heavily battered in July-August 2014 in a war between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side. Its problems are exacerbated by a decade-old Israeli blockade.

Since the rallies along the security fence first kicked off on March 30, more than 130 Palestinian protesters have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli army gunfire. Protesters demand the "right of return" to their homes and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel. They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived Gazans of basic necessities and commodities.

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