UAE donates $2 million to prevent shutdown of Gaza’s hospitals
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UAE donates $2 million to prevent shutdown of Gaza’s hospitals

Infusion should be enough to keep critical medical services in the Strip running for at least a few months

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

An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks the Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, after it ran out of fuel. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)
An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks the Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018, after it ran out of fuel. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has donated $2 million to help keep United Nations medical services in Gaza afloat amid a severe fuel shortage, the UAE’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

Nearly 20 medical centers in Gaza will fully reopen in the coming days, the World Health Organization confirmed. Three hospitals and 16 medical centers had stopped offering key services in recent weeks as crippling fuel shortages meant they were unable to keep generators going, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.

“We have received an announcement from the UAE that they are going to fund two million, which will make the situation a bit easier for another few months,” said Mahmoud Dahar, head of the WHO in Gaza.

Later Thursday the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in statement that the country will donate $9 million to Gaza for emergency aid medicines, medical supplies and food, as well as fuel for hospital generators. Qatar has been one of the biggest donors to Gaza in the past.

Delivery of the supplies was to be coordinated via the United Nations and will delivered through the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza, the statement said.

The UN warned in a statement Tuesday that “emergency fuel for critical facilities in Gaza will become exhausted within the next ten days” and called for urgent donor support “to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe driven by the energy crisis.”

Gaza suffers from poor electricity infrastructure. Currently, most Gazans receive no more than eight hours of power daily, most of which is purchased from Israel.

An employee of the Palestinian health ministry checks the Beit Hanun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip after it stopped its services on January 29, 2018 after it ran out of fuel. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP)

Hospitals and medical clinics around the Strip use fuel to run backup generators during blackouts.

The UN statement warned that the fuel crisis puts as risk emergency and diagnostic services, like MRIs, CT and x-rays, intensive care units and operating theaters in 13 public hospitals. The fuel crisis also threatens crucial facilities in Gaza including some 55 sewage pools, 48 desalination plants, and solid waste collection capacity, the UN said.

The $2 million donated by the UAE should be enough to stave off the crisis for at least a few months.

The UN said $10 million is needed per year to purchase enough fuel to keep critical facilities in Gaza fully functioning.

The Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi said that the donation to Gaza was announced Wednesday in a meeting between the country’s Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, who was visiting the UAE.

The decision was ordered by UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ministry said.

The UN’s Mladenov warned last week that Gaza was on the verge of “full collapse.”

Israel has maintained a blockade on Gaza for over a decade, saying it is necessary in order to prevent the Hamas terror group, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, from smuggling in weapons and material used for digging cross-border attack tunnels.

Egypt has also largely sealed its border with Gaza in recent years.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah party, based in the West Bank, and Gaza’s Hamas rulers agreed a reconciliation deal in October, but its implementation has faltered.

The economic prospects of Gazans took a further turn for the worse last month when the United States withheld $110 million from the UN relief agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, arguing that the organization was due for a “fundamental reexamination.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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