Palestinians living under the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation struggle to receive basic medical treatment due to the heavy restrictions imposed on their movement.
Qatar is set to provide treatment for 3,200 patients in Palestine’s St. John Eye Hospital under a new “significant” agreement aimed at supporting the medical entity’s operations.
The Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) announced the agreement on Sunday, under which it will support patients across the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
“The project will specifically target patients who require surgical procedures. The hospital will provide treatment services based on priority and the medical needs of the patients,” QFFD said in a statement, without disclosing the amount of its contribution.
“This collaboration is significant as St. John Eye Hospital is the largest provider of charitable eye care services in Palestine,” the statement added.
St. John, established more than 140 years ago, is Palestine’s only eye hospital but was among a list of medical entities heavily affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. At least 130,000 Palestinians aged 50 and above live with blindness or visual impairment.
An official from the hospital had told Arab News in 2020 that the hospital’s losses reached at least $1.5 million in the first half of the year alone.
The hospital mostly relies on external funds and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as well as the Palestinian Authority.
The UN agency itself is currently “on the brink of financial collapse” due to what its officials have described as “chronic underfunding”. QFFD had stepped in to provide the UN agency with $2.5 million in emergency support in December last year.
Patients in Palestine living under the ongoing illegal Israeli occupation struggle to receive basic medical treatment due to the heavy restrictions imposed on their movement.
The many illegal military checkpoints, Israel’s dubious permit system as well as the Separation Wall make it difficult for Palestinian patients to access medical treatment.
Meanwhile, Palestinians living under the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza require permits to receive treatment in other Palestinian territories, which could take months to receive approval, if not rejected.
At least five Palestinian cancer patients died last year due to Israel’s restrictions on mobility, widely deemed by rights organisations as illegal.
Gaza has been under an illegal air, land and sea siege by Israel since 2007 that has deprived its 2.3 million population of access to basic resources.
The blockade turned Gaza into what many Palestinians and rights groups have described as the world’s “largest open-air prison”.
Qatar has repeatedly called for the lifting of the siege on Gaza while condemning the ongoing occupation of Palestine.
“The international community has to work to end the occupation, the policies of collective punishment, and the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and to stop arbitrary detention, administrative detention, torture, and ill-treatment against Palestinian detainees and prisoners, especially children,” Dr. Hend Al Muftah, Qatar’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva, said last week.