Gaza health woes worsen as hostilities escalate

Demonstrations in West Bank. Tension between Israel and the Hamas group ruling Gaza escalated over the weekend despite efforts by the Egyptian government, among other international bodies, to forge a cease-fire. Photo by: Tal King / CC BY-NC

The World Health Organization and international nongovernmental organization Muslim Aid have launched financial appeals for the procurement and delivery of much-needed medical supplies in the Gaza Strip.

The appeals come as tension between Israel and the Hamas group ruling Gaza escalated over the weekend despite efforts by the Egyptian government, among other international bodies, to forge a cease-fire. The exchange of hostilities in the area have left at least 70 people dead and 600 injured in Gaza and at least three dead and 79 wounded in Israel as of Sunday (Nov. 18).

The fighting is especially affecting Gaza’s health sector, which was already overstretched even before the most recent hostilities began Nov. 14. According to WHO, Gaza officials have declared an emergency situation to help cope with the number of wounded.

For its part, WHO launched an urgent appeal for $10 million, which the agency said would cover medicines and medical supply needs for three months. WHO added that it is working with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and other health partners to ensure delivery of supplies.

Muslim Aid, meanwhile, is seeking up to €1 million ($1.3 million) to provide medical supplies to Gaza. Another NGO, Save the Children, has launched its own response plan, pledging that it will deliver medicines to hospitals as well as food, water and shelter materials to families “as soon as it is safe to do so.” The group also called for “an immediate and permanent cease-fire.”

Appeal for access

NGOs in the Palestinian territories also made an appeal, issued as part of an open letter to the international community: Establish safe passage into Gaza to ensure the entry of food and medical supplies.

There are reports Israel has already granted some humanitarian access to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border. Some 120 trucks with medicines, food, and household and other basic needs have already been transported through the border post, according to Muslim World News.

Calls for end to violence

Various senior U.N. officials, meanwhile, have been pressing for the immediate end of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

“This must stop,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Nov. 18. “Any further escalation will inevitably increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations and must be avoided.”

It was a message echoed by Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, who called on both parties to back down from an “increasingly dangerous confrontation.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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