J Street is extremely concerned by reports that in recent months the Palestinian Authority has been preventing over 1,000 residents of Gaza, including children, from receiving urgently-needed medical treatment in the West Bank, Jordan and Israel.
Until recently, the PA issued thousands of payment vouchers each month to patients who require treatments unavailable in the Gaza Strip and must receive them elsewhere. Now, according to reports by Gazan residents and NGOs monitoring the enclave’s health crisis, the number of patients receiving these permits has been heavily cut back, leaving over 90 percent of requests unanswered.
This seems to be part of a broader effort to put pressure on Hamas by slashing services and funding provided to Gaza. Gazans were already facing an extreme humanitarian crisis; now, cuts to electricity, civil service salaries and medical vouchers are pushing the territory closer to the brink of disaster. While the residents of Gaza deserve to be free from the oppressive rule of a terrorist movement, civilians must not be reduced to pawns in a wider conflict.
We call on the Palestinian Authority to immediately clarify its policy and to resume the normal issuance of medical vouchers to those who need them. We urge the PA, the Israeli government and the international community to take bold and urgent action to help improve the unacceptable living conditions faced by Gazans today. All sides must take care to ensure that innocent children are not made the victims of a political struggle.