(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
Years of fiscal crisis compounded by the withholding of Palestinian Authority tax revenues by the Israeli government has left Mokassed Hospital on the capital’s Mount of Olives close to shutting down.
According to the hospital’s director, Dr. Rafiq Husseini, the state-of-the-art facility is $30 million in debt.
Husseini told Kuwait News Agency Tuesday that the shortfall has crippled its services to roughly 16,000 patients, many of whom are impoverished and without healthcare, from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Built in 1968 with donations from the Kuwaiti government, the hospital, which also serves as a training center for doctors and nurses, has been one of the premier medical centers for Palestinians for more than 40 years.
It has a staff of 750 and provides 250 beds.
However, the PA’s inability to reimburse the hospital for the vast majority of patients it has referred over the years, coupled with the withholding of tax revenue over the past few months, has left the facility deeply in debt and unable to pay much of its staff, Husseini said.
Despite the PA’s default in payments for expensive procedures over many years, leading to the hospital’s inability to meet payroll demands, Husseini said he blames the Israeli government.
“Many Palestinian facilities in Jerusalem are withstanding the Israeli abuse,” he told the Kuwaiti news organization, adding that it will fight “tooth and nail” for survival.
It is unclear how much of the $30m. debt is owed by the PA, or when the hospital might be forced to shut down.