Gazans stay away from Israeli clinic

Head of WHO's Gaza office tells 'Post' he doubts Hamas would allow Palestinians to access facility.

survey.gaza.war.2009.results (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Medics at Israel's newly inaugurated border clinic expressed their frustration Tuesday at the lack of patients from Gaza coming to the facility, which is situated on the Strip's northern border, and was officially opened Sunday. "I spent the whole day there [Monday] and not one person came to us for help," said one doctor, who preferred to remain anonymous. "The people there are scared, scared of us and scared of Hamas." He continued: "The clinic is an amazing thing but I can't blame them for not wanting to come to us. It is just very frustrating." A spokesman for Magen David Adom (MDA), which is operating the clinic in cooperation with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Health Ministry said that so far only seven Palestinian children with cancer had arrived at the center for treatment. All had been released, he said. Situated at the Erez terminal, the clinic is a humanitarian gesture by Israel following the 22-day operation in Gaza. Speaking at its inauguration on Sunday, government officials said that the clinic would accept all patients and that the more serious cases would be referred to Israeli hospitals. According to Chezy Levy, the Health Ministry's deputy director-general for medical services, Palestinians seeking services will undergo a security check at the border but will otherwise be fast-tracked into the clinic. Set up to treat about 50 patients, the clinic is designed to help Palestinians who are either wounded or ill, said Levy. A mobile intensive care unit and four regular ambulances have been stationed at the Erez clinic by MDA. The facility is staffed with emergency specialists, pediatricians, family physicians, gynecologists/obstetricians, trauma experts, surgeons, orthopedists, ophthalmologists, otolaryngologists and other experts. Tony Laurance, acting head of the World Health Organization's office in Gaza and the West Bank, told The Jerusalem Post earlier this week that he doubted that Palestinians would be allowed by their leaders to access the clinic. Judy Siegel and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.