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Monday, January 24, 2011

The medicine wars between Hamas and the PA

From Ma'an:
The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry on Sunday released the names of employees who it claimed were dismissed by security forces in Gaza.

The Ramallah ministry demanded that the employees were reinstated to their positions in medicine warehouses in the Gaza Strip to facilitate the provision of medicine to residents.

The PA ministry also demanded that the Gaza government placed all medical aid from international donors under the administration of the main warehouses in Gaza.

It further accused the Hamas-led government of charging patients for medicines provided for free by the PA. President Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree exempting Gaza residents from paying for medicine, the ministry noted.

The two ministries regularly trade accusations in an ongoing spat. The Gaza government has accused the PA of failing to meet its responsibilities to the Strip, warning several times that the health sector was on the verge of collapse.

The PA responded that Hamas was stockpiling donated medicine for use by party members, and accused Gaza security forces of dismissing Fatah-affiliated staff.
Fatah-associated media has gone further, saying that Hamas diverts the medicines away from hospitals and towards Hamas-affiliated pharmacies, where hospital patients' families are forced to buy medicine not available in hospitals.

The implication is that Hamas, by demanding more medicine from Ramallah and claiming that the medical system is on the verge of collapse, is actually using those medicines as a means to get cash to finance its own infrastructure.