Date: 06 April 2006
Time: 10:30 GMT
IOF Re-close Karni Commercial Crossing and Impose a Siege on the Palestinian Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip
PCHR Warns the International Community of an Imminent Health Crisis, and Calls upon It to Pressure Israeli Occupation Authorities to Reopen All Border Crossings and Ensure the Free Passage of Food and Medical Supplies into the Gaza Strip
On Tuesday, 4 April 2006, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) closed Karni (al-Mentar) commercial crossing, east of Gaza City, and stopped the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip. The closure of the crossing may lead to a food and health crisis for the 1.5-million Palestinians living on the Gaza Strip. The exportation of agricultural and industrial products from the Gaza Strip has been banned. Thus, IOF have increased the economic and social stranglehold of the Palestinian civilian population. PCHR follows with utmost concern the deterioration in living conditions of the Palestinian civilian population, resulting form the closure imposed by IOF on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the Gaza Strip, which has escalated since the implementation of the Israeli Disengagement Plan on 12 September 2005. PCHR is concerned that dramatic scenes of people looking for basic foodstuffs two weeks ago, when basic foodstuffs run out in the markets due to the closure of Karni crossing, may recur. The Karni crossing is supposed to be permanently open in accordance with the Israeli Palestinian agreement in this regard, which was brokered by the United States, and signed on 15 November 2005, to allow the passage of food and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip. Goods imported into the Gaza Strip when the crossing was open did not meet the needs of the Palestinian civilian population, especially flour. Markets in the Gaza Strip have lacked some basic foodstuffs, medicines, construction raw materials and stationary.
There are serious concerns that a health crisis may be imminent as many medicines and other medical needs have run out in public hospitals in the Gaza Strip due to the closure of Karni crossing. According to information available to PCHR, there are shortages of some medicines and other medical needs:
· Central warehouses of the Palestinian Ministry of Health have lacked 18 kinds of medicines, including antibiotics since the beginning of March 2006.
· Central warehouses of the Palestinian Ministry of Health have lacked 5 kinds of medicines needed by patients who suffer from cancer and bloods diseases since the beginning of March 2006.
· Public hospitals and medical centers in the Gaza Strip have been forced to decrease the amounts of 15 kinds of medicines, including antibiotics, given to patients.
· Hospitals and medical centers in the Gaza Strip have been forced to decrease the use of 13 kinds of medicines. These medicines have been given to patients who are in serious conditions only.
· The Ministry of Health has been forced to decrease the amounts of 7 kinds of medicines given to patients who suffer from cancer and blood diseases.
· Al-Nasser Mental Hospital in Gaza City has lacked some basic medicines needed for its patients, especially medicines of epilepsy.
· Health institutions in the Gaza Strip lack experience, necessary medical equipment and trained medical teams to combat avian flu, whose spread has become imminent. The closure of Karni crossing imposes another obstacle to efforts made to combat avian flu. The World Health Organization has warned of the impacts of closure on the flow of alternative proteins needed by the Palestinian civilian population as chickens have been infected by avian flu.
· Most hospitals and medical centers have been forced to decrease the amounts of medicines given to patients. Priority has been given to patients who are in serious conditions.
Since the beginning of 2006, IOF have closed Karni crossing for 45 days sporadically, in addition to 9 days of partial closure. As a result of this closure, many basic foodstuffs, such as bread, flour, sugar, rice and oil and some kinds of medicines disappeared. Prices of goods sharply increased. Palestinian traders and farmers sustained large losses due to the prohibition of exportation of goods from the Gaza Strip. In addition, most construction projects stopped due to the lack of construction raw materials, and levels of unemployment increased.
PCHR calls upon the international community to intervene and pressure IOF to allow the flow of basic foodstuffs, medicines and equipment needed to combat avian flu into the Gaza Strip, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.
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