Fuel and Gazan hospitals: Israeli siege and the politics of permanent emergency

Last August we published a rapid response at bmj.com to publicise the cumulatively devastating effects upon Gaza’s health system of 12 years of Israeli blockade and their strategy of de-development and impoverishment of Gazan society. Israeli restrictions have produced chronic shortages of almost all essential medicines and hospital equipment, of fuel to run hospital generators, the cancellation of all elective surgery (affecting more than 6000 people), hospital closures, and many doctors and staff on reduced or no pay.


In addition, since March Israeli snipers have been firing military grade ammunition and maiming bullets at the border at unarmed demonstrators, killing 257 to date. This week BBC Radio 4 quoted the UN for the total number wounded - more than 23,000. Medicines Sans Frontieres estimates that “...a massive 3,520 people will need further surgery..”, far beyond the grossly depleted resources available...”. The shooting continues: on Friday 25 January 1 person was killed, and 153 injured, including 34 children, 5 women, 1 journalist, and 5 paramedics on duty. Indeed, since March, 3 clearly marked medics have been shot dead on duty, 580 medics wounded, and 94 ambulances damaged. The targeting of health workers is itself a war crime.


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