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Blockade on Gaza intensifies

27 July 2018

United Nations: ‘If fuel does not come in immediately, people’s lives will be at stake’

 Khaled Omar/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A Palestinian man collects aid provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

A Palestinian man collects aid provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

ESSENTIAL services including hospitals are in danger of shutting down in Gaza, the United Nations has warned.

“If fuel does not come in immediately, people’s lives will be at stake,” the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territory, Jamie McGoldrick, said on Sunday.

The Israeli blockade surrounding Gaza has been tightened since last week, with fuel stopped from entering the territory. Israel said that it did this in response to attacks from Gaza.

Mr McGoldrick said: “Israel must let fuel and other essential supplies in, and donors must mobilise resources to ensure that critical facilities receive the fuel they need.”

The Christian charity Embrace, which helps fund the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, has expressed concern at the crisis. The charity’s director of programmes and partnerships, Jamie Eyre, said: “Emergency fuel is critical. We are not talking imminent shutdown, but they only have a couple of week’s supply left. The concern is about when the emergency stocks run out, because then there will be a problem.”

The director of fundraising and marketing, Nigel Varndell, said that “in every grant Embrace gives, we give them supplies for emergency fuel. We will continue to tell their story and publicise what is going on in Gaza, and continue with our Gaza appeal.”

Last month, the charity launched an appeal to raise money to fund the Anglican hospital in Gaza (News, 1 June).

“The fundamental issue,” Mr Vandell said, “is the Israeli blockade, and that has only been made worse by the recent increase in tensions.”

Mr Eyre agreed: “The Israeli government has really tightened the screws on Gaza, they need to be loosened. The blockade needs to be lifted, but what the people there really need is medical supplies and fuel.

“Although this is a crisis now, there is a chronic health-crisis in Gaza, and that is a result of the blockade. Inevitably, it is the poorest people who suffer most. We have just launched an appeal to make sure we can keep funding the hospital.”

Mr Varndell said: “Without help, hospitals will have to suspend operations and that will impact the most vulnerable. Even for those who are used to the situation in Gaza, this crisis is a lot worse.”

On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, expressed “acute concerns” over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

He urged “the parties and all those with influence to do their utmost to avoid another round of violence and misery”, as this would just “compound the already extreme humanitarian crisis”.

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