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Hamas blames PA for Gaza infant deaths after refusing medical permits

Israel's 10-year blockade has led to a dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 June, 2017

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The Hamas-run health ministry said Tuesday that three infants had died over the past 24-hours after the Palestinian Authority refused to pay for their medical treatment in Israel.
Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said Tuesday that three infants had died over the past 24-hours after the Palestinian Authority refused to pay for their medical treatment in Israel.

The PA normally pays for Gazans to receive healthcare in Israel but has reportedly reduced the number of permits issued to patients as part of a raft of punitive measures against Hamas.

More than 90 percent of patients in Gaza who requested payment vouchers from the PA have not received a reply in the past month, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI).

Around 1,600 Gazans are waiting for referrals from the PA as of 25 June, the group added, saying Palestinians in Gaza "are held hostage to political infighting".

Gaza's ministry of health named the three deceased infants as Musab Bilal Araeer, Baraa Ghaben and Ibrahim Tbeil, all of whom were aged under one, The Times of Israel reported.

The infants were suffering from cardiovascular conditions.

A total of 11 Palestinians in Gaza have died in the past few months, including five children, due to a lack of medical aid from the PA, the ministry claims.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on social media that denying medical transfers for the sick in Gaza amounted to "crimes against humanity", directly blaming President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Authority rejected the accusations, with the head of medical referrals, Bassam al-Badri, saying that only 50 percent of permits were approved because Israel was denying Palestinians exit approval via the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, Ma’an News Agency reported.

Information gained by PHRI from Gaza's health ministry shows that monthly PA budgets for the besieged enclave's health care needs have been drastically cut in recent months.

The monthly budget had stood at around $4 million, Ma’an News Agency reported, but dropped to $2.3 million in April and as low as $500,000 in May, affecting the functioning of thirteen hospitals and 54 care centres.

While internal Fatah-Hamas disputes exacerbate the crisis in Gaza, the decade-long Israeli blockade of the territory is chiefly responsible for the dire humanitarian conditions, with the UN warning that the enclave could be "uninhabitable by 2020".

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