Israeli general mocks Abbas for sending medical aid to Venezuela
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Israeli general mocks Abbas for sending medical aid to Venezuela

Defense Ministry coordinator in West Bank points out Latin American country 'is more than 10,000 kilometers from Ramallah' while the beleaguered Gaza Strip is just next door

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas listens during a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas on May 16, 2014. photo credit: AFP/JUAN BARRETO)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas listens during a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas on May 16, 2014. photo credit: AFP/JUAN BARRETO)

An Israeli general sharply criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for sending medical aid to distant Venezuela while cutting down on help to the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

“We draw the Palestinian Authority’s attention to the fact that traveling from Ramallah to Gaza is only one hour, while the distance between Venezuela and Ramallah is more than 10,000 kilometers,” wrote Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Major General Yoav Mordechai on his official Facebook page.

COGAT is the Defense Ministry department in charge of Palestinian civilian affairs.

On Sunday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki and PA Health Minister Jawad Awwad announced they were sending three truckloads of medical supplies to Venezuela, including antibiotics, drugs for the treatment of chronic diseases and “everything necessary for emergencies.”

Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh signing an agreement to revitalize the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, January 15 2017 (COGAT)
Head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, and the Palestinian Authority’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh signing an agreement to revitalize the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee, January 15 2017 (COGAT)

The shipment was slated to travel Sunday to the Israeli port of Ashdod, and from there to Venezuela.

Mordechai’s social media post included an image of Awwad and Maliki pinning messages onto one of the aid containers and the caption, “Abbas helps Venezuela with medical supplies, but what about the Palestinians.”

Maliki said he was ordered by Abbas to send the donation, and called Venezuela “the friend who has repeatedly stood with the Palestinian people in the ordeal that it has gone and is going through.”

Maliki noted the Venezuelan donation of $15 million being used to construct an eye hospital in the village of Turmus Ayya, near Ramallah.

Venezuela in currently suffering from a food and medicine shortage heightened by the fallout from a political battle over the country’s future.

The Gaza Strip has been suffering from a severe shortage of medical supplies in recent months. Hamas and international NGOs have accused the PA of slashing its traditional medical aid to the Strip, as part of a series of punitive measures aimed at forcing the terror group to cede control of the Palestinian enclave.

According to information given to Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) by Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry in June, “one-third of essential medicines and more than 270 medical equipment items for operating rooms and intensive care units can no longer be obtained in the Health Ministry’s storerooms and in Gaza hospitals.”

PHRI, quoting statistics from the Hamas-run ministry, said most cancer patients in Gaza are not able to receive proper treatment because of shortfalls.

One of the groups hardest hit by the medicine shortage is patients, mostly children, suffering from the chronic lung disease cystic fibrosis, who can’t get the pills and vitamins they need, PHRI said.

The Palestinian Authority has also cut back on paying for Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel and abroad.

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