Fidaa Talal Hijji was 18 years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. She died waiting for the permit to travel abroad where she was supposed to receive a bone marrow transplant; Israel’s permission arrived a day after she died. Fidaa’s case is emblematic of the many Palestinian citizens sentenced to death by the Israeli embargo that has placed Gaza under siege for the past three years.
The UN and over 80 NGO’s have duly denounced it. Aid workers in Gaza have published a report in Gaza City noting that “since November 2007, some 88 people have died awaiting Israeli permits allowing them to leave Gaza to receive specialized medical attention or delicate surgical procedures”. The embargo, says the document, “is seriously threatening the health of over 1.5 million Palestinians”, while “obstructing the delivery of healthcare supplies and training for medical personnel, apart from preventing patients suffering serious pathologies to receive specialized care outside of Gaza”.
Moreover, the amount of medicines, tools and supplies that Israel authorizes “is not sufficient in meeting the needs of the population”. The report also holds that “it is almost impossible for medical doctors to go abroad for further specialization”. In this context, the aid workers add that 15 hospitals and 43 clinics were damaged or destroyed by the ‘Cast Lead’ bombardments that caused 1400 deaths in January 2009.
“These facilities have not been rebuilt because of the ban that Israel imposes on the import of construction material in Gaza”. The situation in Gaza, says Max Gaylard, UN humanitarian aid Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories “has nothing to do with Haiti, which was devastated by an earthquake. Here, the devastation is man made and as such it could have been avoided”.
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