The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the ongoing closure of Gaza Crossings for the 2nd day consecutively, following the Israeli military offensive on Tuesday at dawn that has targeted civilian facilities, killed 16 Palestinians, including 4 children and 4 women, and injured 21 others who sustained various wounds. PCHR emphasizes that the continued closure of the crossings threatens the lives of hundreds of patients and weakens the already frail health system due to the Israeli-imposed closure on Gaza Strip for 16 years.
According to PCHR’s follows-up, the closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing has denied hundreds of cancer patients and others with serious diseases, whose treatment is unavailable at Gaza Strip’s hospital, travel to complete their treatment at hospitals in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, or in Israel, seriously endangering their lives. Yesterday, the 1st day of the closure, 142 cancer patients were unable to travel to receive and complete their treatment, including 5 serious and life-saving cases. Today, 136 patients have not been able to travel for treatment, including (3) serious cases. Additionally, the Israeli occupation authorities have refused to return the dead body of (H. N.), from northern Gaza Strip, who was receiving treatment at al-Mutala’ Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem and died today at dawn.
With the ongoing closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing to patients with serious diseases, hundreds of patients face willful killing in light of Gaza health system’s inability to provide health services to these patients due to the lack of specialized medical staff and chronic shortage of medicines and medical supplies, particularly radiotherapy and laboratory materials necessary for conducting diagnostic tests.
Gaza hospitals suffer from acute shortage of drugs and medical supplies as the number of essential drugs at zero-stock reached 255 out of 522 types with a deficit rate of (43%), while the number of medical supplies at zero-stock reached 165 out of 853 essential types with a deficit rate of (19%). Moreover, for 18 months, the Israeli occupation authorities have banned the entry of a number of medical devices that are used in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, such as interventional radiology and ultrasound devices, in addition to some spare parts needed for the maintenance of inoperative devices.
Moreover, continuously closing “Kerem Shalom” Crossing, Gaza’s only commercial crossing, and banning the entry of medical supplies have inflicted serious repercussions on the lives of thousands of Gaza Strip patients and impeded the work of the medical personnel at the emergency departments, operating rooms, and intensive care units to provide health care for the wounded.
The ongoing closure of the crossings and ban on the entry of the necessary fuel supplies would force the Gaza’s only power plant to shut down, so civilians would face long hours of blackouts at houses and vital facilities, such as hospitals and infrastructure service facilities. It is also feared that catastrophic scenarios similar to those in the previous offensives would recur, such as cutting water supplies to citizens for long periods, and shutdown of desalination plants and wastewater treatment plant, that may lead to a serious health hazard due to sewage floods. And if exacerbated, this will lead to the outbreak of epidemics and diseases among citizens as well as the recontamination of the groundwater reservoir.
PCHR emphasizes that the closure of crossings is a form of collective punishment and is internationally prohibited and a clear violation of Article (33) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Therefore PCHR:
- Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under the Convention; to provide protection for Palestinian civilians who are subjected to war crimes by IOF, and to practice pressure on Israel to end use of collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population, including the closure of crossings that seriously jeopardizes civilians’ enjoyment of their economic and social rights.
- Urges the international community to take immediate and urgent action to pressure Israel to open all crossings, allow the travel of patients for treatment abroad, and ensure the entry of drugs and medical equipment to Gaza Strip hospitals and fuel supplies to Gaza’s only power plant.
- Believes that the international community’s silence policy towards the crime of the Israeli closure on Gaza has contributed to the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, as more than half of the population (53%) live in poverty, 64.4% are food insecure, and 80% are dependent on international aid.