Thursday, June 08, 2023

  • Thursday, June 08, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon

From Haaretz:
As Critical Medicine Runs Out in West Bank, Palestinian Authority Points at Israel 
An acute drug shortage in the West Bank affects Palestinian hospitals and residents with chronic conditions. The Palestinian Authority blames Israel, saying it is not helping it to supply and fund the medicines. The Gaza Strip is in a similar crisis.

Khaled Verdad, a nurse in the state hospital in the northern West Bank city of Tubas, says the crisis has been felt for several weeks. “People come here, from as well, who need medicine for dialysis patients and we have no way of helping them,” he says.

“Anyone with money may be able to buy medicines privately, but most of the residents can’t do that. In some places there aren’t even drugs for diabetes or high blood pressure. People turn to relatives in Israel or to organizations that can help, but even then the quantities are very limited,” he says.

A senior PA official told Haaretz the drug shortage in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip stems mainly from the Ramallah government’s inability to pay suppliers regularly. In addition, pharmacists in medical centers and hospital pharmacies in the West Bank are on strike. On top of that, in recent months the UN Relief and Works Agency has closed its medical centers in refugee camps due to budget shortfalls.

“The PA’s entire budget is based on the taxes Israel collects, and that barely covers the costs of wages, including the Health Ministry’s wages. Because Israel deducts hundreds of millions from the tax money to the PA, it cannot pay for medicines,” the officials [said.]

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel reported a rise of tens of percent in the number of Palestinian patients visiting its mobile clinic in the West Bank and a spike in demand for medicines. Volunteers say many patients forgo medical care and drugs due to Israel’s restrictions on entering and exiting the large cities, where medicines are still available.

 “The shortage isn’t only the outcome of an internal Palestinian crisis,” the executive director of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, Dr. Guy Shalev, said. “Beyond Israel’s contribution to the economic crisis in the PA, the roadblocks and policy restricting Palestinians’ movement is making the patients’ lives impossible.”

I cannot find a single article in Palestinian media about a drug shortage in the West Bank from 2023. The Palestinian health ministry adds news articles and reports regularly and they have nothing about this.  (Today, Al Quds translated Haaretz' article.) 

Sky News Arabia - not a Palestinian news site - wrote about a medicine crisis nine months ago. It did not blame Israel; it said that the health ministry could not pay their debts so suppliers were stopping shipments.

If there is such an acute health crisis, why is this not being mentioned in Palestinian media or by its government websites? 

Setting aside that question for now, let's look closer at what the Haaretz article actually says.

While the headline says that the Palestinian Authority is blaming Israel for this shortage, it gives four separate reasons that Palestinians in the West Bank cannot get the medicines they need. The first three are from an anonymous Palestinian official

1. The Palestinian government cannot pay for medicines. Israel's withholding tax revenue is blamed.

2. Pharmacists in the West Bank are on strike.

3. UNRWA has closed down its own medical centers in camps. 

There's a pharmacists' strike? UNRWA has closed down medical clinics? 

Those seem like pretty big news stories. When has Haaretz reported on them? For that matter, how much has the media altogether reported on them? 

There was a pharmacist strike in the territories starting in April, and I don't know if it is still going on. 

Also in April, UNRWA's head Philippe Lazzarini spoke about its own budget crisis - but he didn't mention that UNRWA was forced to close medical clinics.One would think he would have highlighted that fact in pressuring the world to pay for UNRWA's budget.  I read Palestinian media daily and this is the first I've heard about that, although there have been major strikes by UNRWA workers. 

Things are not adding up here. 

Now let's look at the fourth reason given that Palestinians cannot get medicines. It comes from an Israeli NGO whose funding is proportional to how much it demonizes Israel:

4. Israeli security blocks Palestinians from reaching large cities where medicines are still available as their own supplies dwindle.

There have been some additional roadblocks in specific instances when Israel is pursuing perpetrators of terror attacks, but it seems highly unlikely that Israel blocks the Palestinian Authority from distributing medicines to the smaller towns, which is the normal procedure. And PHR-I says that the medicines are available in the cities.

This is a logistics issue, not a roadblock issue. 

While it is true that Israel is withholding a portion of tax revenue from the PA, that is because the PA spends a significant portion of its budget on paying terrorists and their families, popularly known as "pay for slay." It accounts for some $350 million annually, which would buy a lot of medicine.  

Mahmoud Abbas has said multiple times that these payments are the PA's highest priority. 

Which means that the medicine crisis is directly a result of the Palestinian Authority preferring to pay terrorists and families of "martyrs" over medicine for its people. 

Taken altogether, this is Haaretz manufacturing a blood libel against Israel. Israel is not telling the Palestinian Authority how to spend its money, nor is it blocking any medicine distribution in the West Bank nor in Gaza (which is how these stories are normally framed.) 

In past years the Palestinian Authority itself purposefully blocked medicines from reaching Gaza for political purposes, showing how little it cares about health care for its own people. This is part of the same story: the PA has plenty of money to spend on empty museums or fake jobs for released prisoner terrorists, but health care and teachers' salaries are a much lower priority. 

But this Haaretz article also proves other dysfunctionality in the PA, in the media and with NGOs. 

There is next to no reporting on important stories like the pharmacists' strike, UNRWA (maybe) closing its own medical clinics, Palestinian teachers' strikes and other everyday stories that the media and NGOs ignore or skate over - even though there are more reporters and NGO employees covering the West Bank than anywhere else in the world, except perhaps Washington DC. 

The overarching imperative is to manufacture a narrative where Israel is solely to blame for all of the Palestinian ills, and Palestinian leaders have no responsibility to act like real leaders should.  Media and NGOs do not put any pressure on the Palestinian leadership to act responsibly and to prioritize normal governance rather than keeping a system that everyone knows is corrupt and wasting international funds. 

Beyond that, this story being in Haaretz and not in Palestinian media, yet heavily dependent on an anonymous Palestinian official, indicates that this is the first salvo of a new Palestinian propaganda campaign against Israel, where Haaretz provides the initial legitimacy that can then be built upon. If true, expect international NGOs to join the bandwagon soon. 

This article is part of the collective, international blood libel blaming Jews for Palestinian leaders recklessly endangering their own people's lives. 

(photo above from Gaza in 2015, I couldn't find any photos showing empty pharmacy shelves in the West Bank)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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