U.N.: Israel must allow fuel into Gaza to prevent hospital closures

Israel halts fuel shipments to Gaza as terror on border continues, August 2, 2018 (Reuters)
Israel should allow the passage of fuel and gas into Gaza to prevent the closure of hospitals in the Strip, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
“Restricting the entry of emergency fuel to Gaza is a dangerous practice, with grave consequences on the rights of people in Gaza,” said Jamie McGoldrick, deputy special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.
“The well-being of two million people, half of whom are children, is at stake. It is unacceptable that Palestinians in Gaza are repeatedly deprived of the most basic elements of a dignified life,” he said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman banned fuel and gas from entering Gaza on August 2 to protest continued Hamas violence against Israel. He said that he would not lift the ban until Palestinians in Gaza stop launching flaming kites and rockets against Israel and ceased the violent protests at the border.
But without fuel, Gaza hospitals and sanitation facilities are in danger of closing. Gaza already operates on only about four hours of electricity a day and the fuel is needed to run back-up generators.
Some 2,000 patients in Gaza’s hospitals are particularly at risk, the UN said.
At least 60,000 liters of emergency fuel are needed to keep hospitals, essential water and sanitation services running for the next four days, the UN said.
In addition, due to shortfalls in financial assistance, $4.5 million is needed by mid-August to ensure the continued operation of essential services in Gaza, the UN said.
“Gaza desperately needs longer-term solutions so we can move past this cycle of repeated or worsening crises, including that the Palestinian Authority prioritize [the] provision of fuel for essential services,” McGoldrick said.
“Until that happens, Israel must reverse the recent restrictions, including on the entry of emergency fuel, and donors must step in and fund emergency fuel, in order to avoid a disease outbreak or other major public health concern,” he concluded.
Last month, Israel also banned commercial goods from entering and leaving the coastal enclave.
Israel controls two of the three land crossings into Gaza: the commercial passage at Kerem Shalom and the pedestrian one at Erez. Egypt controls the third crossing at Rafah which is mainly for pedestrian traffic, but a limited amount of commercial goods also enter from there.