Gaza’s shortages of medicines
Jul 4, 2011 | Allon Lee
Last week Fresh AIR blogged on news reports and other sources (here, here and here) that show Gazans not only live longer than people in many other parts of the world but also rank well on the sliding scale of what ordinary people would consider living above the poverty line.
However it is often pointed out that there are shortages of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza, implying that this is the result of Israel’s blockade. But while there are such shortages, they actually have almost nothing to do with either Israel or the blockade. Rather, they are primarily the result of an internal Hamas-Fatah dispute.
This is rarely reported, but Reuters has just provided a useful exception in a recent story.
Mahmoud Daher, the Gaza office director of the World Health Organization (WHO), said shortages of medicine and medical equipment were at an “unprecedented” level, forcing the cancellation of some operations and evacuation of patients.
However, this problem cannot be blamed directly on Israel.
Daher said the two main reasons were a failure by the Palestinian authorities to pay suppliers on time and a lack of cooperation between health authorities in the West Bank and Gaza, which are governed by rival Palestinian movements.
The two feuding parties, Hamas and Fatah, announced a surprise reconciliation pact two months ago. Since then, attempts to enact the accord have foundered, to the intense disappointment of locals who want Palestinian unity.
The truth is, this should be obvious. Israel has never restricted the entry of medical supplies into Gaza, so how could it be responsible for the shortages?
Of course, don’t expect the flotilla types to give up this talking point, no matter how unfounded it is.