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World Health Organization (WHO)
14 June 2007
Factional violence in Gaza Strip
On Saturday June 9th
, renewed factional violence erupted between members of Fatah and Hamas in Tal Al- Sultan area, west of Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News / WHO-Sub office in Gaza). The factional violence (now in day five) continues despite the attempts of mediators like the Egyptian Military Delegation, to work towards a ceasefire. The killing of Jamal Abu Eljidian, a leader of Fatah in the northern part of Gaza, on Monday, the 11th of June, triggered a further escalation of the violence. Since this past Saturday, reports estimate fifty nine Palestinians killed and a hundred and two hundred seventy three injured. A temporary ceasefire seems in place on the morning of 13th June, possibly to allow 24,000 secondary school students to attend their exams. (WHO-Sub office in Gaza).
On Monday, Beit Hanoun Hospital was a scene of violence between Fatah and Hamas members. Four patients were killed inside the hospital including one in the operating theatre and as many as ten others reported wounded. The hospital was evacuated. At the Shifa Hospital armed groups within the hospital exchanged fire with nearby positions held by opposing groups. Fighting around the hospital continued into the night of Monday and Tuesday morning (ICRC- Press Release 12 June 2007). Primary Health facilities are partially functioning since Monday 11th June. On Tuesday all PHC facilities in Gaza city were closed. Currently, three PHC facilities in Gaza are closed; some others are functioning only partially due to the lack of staff who were unable to get to their workplaces, mainly in Gaza city. Health workers in Abu Yousef Al Najjar Hospital – Rafah went for a three hour strike to protest the shootings within the hospital. (WHO- Gaza Sub Office) Three of the five UNRWA food distribution centers and seven out of their eighteen health centers in the Gaza Strip were forced to close on Tuesday as fighting raged in their immediate vicinity. (Ma’an news; quoted from UNRWA Press Release) In addition, two ambulances were stolen by militants. All UN offices in Gaza are currently closed. The Field Security Coordination Officer (FSCO) advised all UN staff to restrict their movement. (WHO- Gaza Sub Office).
The Director General of the MoH hospitals in Gaza reported to WHO that there is an overload on all hospitals in Gaza. Some surgery procedures are hampered due to lack of special kits, mainly for vascular surgery. There is also a shortage of blood units due to inability of donors to reach blood banks. Shifa hospital reported an urgent need for an auto-analyzer used for blood chemistry laboratory tests.
The Palestinian Health Minister, Dr. Radwan Akhras, in a statement on Sunday stated, “ Palestinians should not cross the red line; everyone must respect Palestinian blood.” (Ma’an news).
UN agencies are monitoring the situation closely. UN Agencies convened a Heads of Agency Meeting (June 13th) to discuss the crisis. As the lead agency for the health sector, WHO is coordinating urgent needs and response and providing drugs, consumables and laboratory supplies. The health sector will come out with a matrix on the needs and response by the afternoon of the 14th. WFP has provided food supply to Shifa Hospital and UNICEF is following vaccination and PHC programmes.
joint UN statement issued on the 13th of June
UN organizations expressed their serious concern about the violations of the international humanitarian law including the attacks on hospitals, ambulances, extra judicial killings. The UN is alarmed by the humanitarian consequences resulting from heavy fighting which is preventing the civilian population from reaching essential health services and food outlets. Kevin Kennedy, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt said: “There is a need for immediate efforts to restore calm, protect the lives of innocent Palestinians and secure the safe and secure distribution of emergency aid.” The United Nations organizations called upon all parties engaged in the current hostilities to exercise their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law and refrain from attacks on civilians, humanitarian institutions and carrying out extra-judicial killings. Click to
UNRWA issued a press release on the afternoon of June 12th
stating that, with 80% of the refugee population totally aid dependant and a collapsed economy due to the international economic embargo, the internal violence has left Palestine refugees in unprecedented misery and despair.
press release on June 12th ICRC
reiterated “that all sides must take every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of civilians and those not involved in the fighting. The deliberate targeting of civilians, particularly women and children is unacceptable by any international standard.”
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned at the resurgence of violence in Gaza
, which has reportedly left at least 20 people dead.