On 12 May 2018, Israeli authorities prevented a Palestinian medical team from the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the West Bank from entering the Gaza Strip. The team sought to support the provision of medical treatment to people in Gaza in light of the thousands of Palestinians injured in the Great Return March protests. Al Mezan condemns Israel’s continued movement restrictions for medical teams and calls on the international community to take prompt steps to ensure medics, patients, and drugs are able to move freely at crossings.
A notice on the MoH website states that Israeli authorities rejected the entry request for the medical delegation, which was formed by the Minister of Health, Dr. Jawad Awwad. The team was mandated to provide medical support to Gaza hospitals in light of the huge demand stemming from Israel’s fervent and unlawful use of snipers and live fire on the unarmed Palestinian protesters.
The longstanding closure and blockade of Gaza has depleted healthcare resources; currently, 257 of the most-needed medicines are zero stock (a shortage of 50%) and 247 of the most-needed medical necessities are in zero stock (a shortage of 29%). Medical equipment, medical professionals, and necessary training are in short supply and hinder the ability of Gaza’s doctors to effectively treat the wounded.
In light of the challenges faced by the medical community in Gaza, Al Mezan condemns in the strongest terms Israel’s denial of entry to the medical delegation. The implementation of movement restrictions through Gaza crossings has hindered patient access to lifesaving medical care, with an immediate implication being, for example, that patients are forced to undergo amputations for leg injuries that could instead be operated on in West Bank hospitals.
These restrictions are unlawful and contradict international law norms that oblige duty bearers to maintain adequate standards of health, and require Israel, the occupying power, to allow passage of healthcare supplies and equipment into the occupied territory.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to take immediate and effective measures to stop the occupying power’s breach of international humanitarian law and human rights law, by ensuring that the special protection of civilians and freedom of movement of medics and patients is upheld. Al Mezan calls on concerned agencies, NGOs and international bodies to mobilize support for patients in the Gaza Strip whose lives are threatened by the current crisis.
 Reported in April 2018 by the MoH’s General Directorate of Pharmacy