This morning at 10:30 (local time), four men in civilian clothes, including an employee of the Interior Minister, entered Help Doctors medical dispensary for chronic patients in Khan Yunis and confiscated equipment.
No official document was presented authorizing the seizure of the equipment and receipt was provided. They have announced their intention to give the material to another NGO and to return.
The Help Doctors clinic has been closed by order of the authorities since June 16, 2010. Help Doctors request the authorities in Gaza to do everything, without delay, to return the equipment and to reopen the clinic.
This event follows two months of administrative procedures with the Ministry of Health following the shutdown of the clinic. The only explanation given for the immediate closure of the clinic by the authorities was that it was "not consistent" with the Palestinian Administrative Law for NGOs in Gaza and "unsuitable" for the needs of the Ministry of Health.
The Chronic Diseases Clinic of HELP DOCTORS in Khan Yunis was opened on April 30, 2009 three months after the 22-day war on Gaza. The clinic was opened after the verbal agreement of the Minister of Health in March 2009. In a year, over 4,800 consultations were performed, 12 public sessions of Health Education and diabetes screening, and over 6,300 lab tests. All treatments, tests and medicines are free of charge for chronic patients.
The clinic's medical team consists exclusively of 9 Palestinians from Gaza - 2 doctors, 2 lab technicians, one nurse, one secretary, one administrative assistant, one maintenance person and a director. All these staff were unemployed before the opening of the clinic.
Today, few international humanitarian organizations are allowed to enter Gaza in order to give assistance to 1.6 million civilian victims of the siege, shortage of food, lack of electricity, unemployment, poverty and carelessly. It is essential that international medical NGOs present in Gaza can work freely and safely and that the Israeli blockade on Gaza that is a form of collective punishment be lifted without delay.
According to International Humanitarian Law, Help Doctors call on the authorities in Gaza, especially the Ministry of Health:
o The immediate reopening of the clinic with the freedom of access and treatment for all chronic patient that the clinic has been serving during the past year
o The return of all materials seized by security forces on June 16 and the 17th August
o Security for all Palestinians employed in the clinic, particularly in fulfilling their mission of care.