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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Palestine | International | Health, Housing, and Public Services
US-backed Israeli siege creates humanitarian disaster in Gaza
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 :The Israeli government’s drastic tightening of a blockade against the Gaza Strip has deepened an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the Palestinian coastal territory, plunging its 1.5 million people into cold and darkness and threatening to unleash both mass hunger and a serious health crisis. The Israeli cabinet voted last week to seal all border crossings into Gaza, cutting off food, medicine and fuel for the population and turning the entire territory into a vast prison.
By Sunday, the cutoff of fuel forced the shutdown of the Gaza Strip’s only power plant.
“We have had to close the power plant for want of fuel,” the plant’s director Rafik Mliha told reporters. “This closure is going to have very serious consequences for residents, but also for the operation of hospitals and treatment plants.”
Indeed, the Palestinian Committee on Human Rights quoted Dr. Hassan Khalaf, the director of Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, as warning that patients’ lives were being placed at severe risk, including 30 premature babies at the hospital who would die if power remained cut off. Meanwhile, the territory’s second-largest medical facility, the European Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip, has been forced to suspend all major surgical operations.
The director general of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, warned Monday that the situation was grave. “Disruptions in the continuity of essential services take a heavy toll on people needing emergency care and those suffering from conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes,” she said.Read More