Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights warn that Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza through its 15-year-long closure and blockade has created a humanitarian and health crisis that continues to deteriorate year-on-year.
In a new joint report, published on the 15-year anniversary of the intensified closure regime imposed by Israel since 2007, the organisations highlight how Israel’s stifling restrictions and repeated military attacks have degraded Gaza’s healthcare system and routinely prevented patients from accessing essential and potentially life-saving care.
“For 15 years Israel has denied Palestinians in Gaza their most basic rights to health and dignity. We are living in intolerable conditions with a health system constantly on the verge of collapse. The international community must pressure Israel to immediately end its blockade, which is the root cause of the seemingly endless healthcare disaster we face,” said Fikr Shalltoot, MAP’s Gaza Director.
The essential building blocks of health are unavailable to many in Gaza, with approximately 80% of people reliant on humanitarian assistance, 64% experiencing food insecurity and 59% living in poverty. Shortages of essential equipment, electricity, specialist staff and medical supplies mean that the healthcare system cannot meet people’s needs.
There is less than one month’s supply available of 40% of essential drugs and 20% of medical disposables, medical equipment and components are frequently blocked by Israel from entering Gaza, and healthcare staff are routinely prevented from travelling out for training.
As many vital services are therefore unavailable inside Gaza, patients must be referred to hospitals in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or abroad. However, in 2021, 36% of the more than 15,000 patients’ requests to the Israeli authorities for permits to exit Gaza were either rejected, delayed or received no response, preventing them from accessing the care they need.