Israeli Authorities Ban Import of Necessary Maintenance Parts, PCHR Warns Against Repercussions of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital Oxygen Station Shutdown on the Lives of Hundreds of Patients

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On Wednesday, 04 November 2020, al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital’s oxygen station shutdown due to the Israeli occupation authorities’ stalling in allowing the import of the necessary spare-parts for its maintenance.

Eng. Bassam al-Hamadin, General Director of Engineering and Maintenance at the Ministry of Health (MOH), stated to PCHR that the oxygen station at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital broke down a few days ago, and its fixing required materials and spare parts that are not available in the Gaza Strip but in Sandouqah Company warehouse in occupied Jerusalem. MOH had ordered the spare parts necessary for the station maintenance; however, the Israeli occupation authorities stalled in allowing the import of the necessary parts, causing shutdown of the oxygen station on Wednesday afternoon. Al-Hamadin added that the shutdown will negatively affect the conditions of 100 patients in different hospital departments, 9 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 12 newborns in the hospital nurseries and will stop general surgeries and gynecologic surgeries in 5 Operation Rooms (ORs).

PCHR warns of the serious repercussions on patients’ lives at al- Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, keeping in mind the healthcare facilities in the Strip already suffers from serious deterioration due to the Israeli- imposed closure on the Gaza Strip for the last 14 years, exacerbated by the repercussions of the Palestinian internal division and political bickering. All of this has caused a fragile healthcare system in the Gaza Strip, a perpetual shortage of essential drugs and medical devices and insufficient number of specialized health professionals; rendering the system unable to meet the basic medical needs of the Gaza Strip population in normal times.

According to the MOH, its central warehouses have acute and serious shortage of the essential drugs list; as the number of drugs categories at zero stock has reached 244 out of 516, with a 47.2% deficit rate, while the number of categories that are sufficient for less than 3 months has reached 69 (13.3%). Moreover, the central warehouses have acute and serious shortage of the essential medical supplies list; as the number of categories at zero stock has reached 278 out of 853, with a 32.5% deficit rate, while the number of categories that are sufficient for less than 3 months has reached 69 (8%).

It is noteworthy that Israeli authorities continue to impose strict restrictions for the 14 consecutive year on the entry of goods classified as “dual-use materials.” The Israeli authorities officially list 62 items as “dual-use items” which include hundreds of goods and basic materials. The items on the “dual-use goods” list are essential to the life of the population, so imposing restrictions on them contribute to the deterioration of infrastructure and the deterioration of economic, health and education conditions.

In light of the fear of a health sector collapse in the Gaza Strip, PCHR stresses that Israel holds the primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the Gaza Strip in accordance with Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. PCHR also calls upon the international community and the World Health Organization (WHO) to practice pressure on Israel and compel it to comply with its obligations, and to allow the entry of medical supplies and equipment necessary for coronavirus medical examination.