Hospital in Gaza freezes services after fuel runs out
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Hospital in Gaza freezes services after fuel runs out

Beit Hanoun hospital says patients' lives at risk after it suspends services because it can't run generators during the many hours of no electricity

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

Illustrative: An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on December 8, 2017 .(AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
Illustrative: An injured Palestinian man arrives at a hospital to receive treatment following an Israeli air strike in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on December 8, 2017 .(AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

A hospital in the northern Gaza Strip suspended its services on Monday due to a lack of fuel, the hospital and a spokesperson for the Hamas-run health ministry said.

“All health services provided at Beit Hanoun hospital were suspended due to power cuts and the lack of fuel for the hospital’s backup generators,” the hospital wrote in a statement posted to its official Facebook page.

Ashraf al-Qidre, a spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said that many patients in the Beit Hanoun hospital were transferred to other hospitals that are still working.

The Palestinian Authority recently agreed to end cuts on electricity payments for Gaza, with the Strip now supposed to get six hours of power at a time, followed by 12 hours without.

Palestinian children do their homework by candlelight during a power outage in Gaza City on September 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

For months Gaza’s health ministry has been warning that it will be forced to reduce health services and to take austerity measures, because it lacks the fuel to run generators.

Lat week the PA reportedly announced a one million shekel emergency grant to buy fuel for Gaza’s health facilities.

The emergency fuel was meant to last for 10 days, while Gaza’s authorities search for a solution to their fuel problem. No solution has been announced.

The Beit Hanoun hospital posted pictures on Facebook of empty beds, hallways, pediatric wards and operating rooms, warning that the fuel crisis “threatens the lives of patients.”

The Beit Hanoun Hosptial is the only health facility in the northern section of the Strip where pediatric and ear, nose and throat surgery is available, Qidre wrote.

Early this month, Gazans took to the streets to protest the increasingly unlivable conditions in the Strip.

A flurry of recent reports have warned that the enclave is on the verge of collapse, its 1.8 million inhabitants plagued by frequent electricity blackouts, undrinkable water and an outdated cellular network.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade on Gaza for a decade, since the Strip was taken over by the Hamas terror group in a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority. Israel has fought three wars with the terror group since 2008, and insists the blockade is necessary to stop Hamas importing weapons and material used to construct terror tunnels and fortifications.

Other goods and supplies such as fuel are allowed to enter through one crossing from Israel into Gaza. Egypt, too, has allowed some fuel to be imported.

Palestinians take part in a protest outside a United Nations (UN) distribution center in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on January 21, 2018. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

 

Payments for electricity have been a key issue in ongoing efforts at reconciliation between Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party in the West Bank.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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