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      Gaza Imposes Closure on Its Own Doctors

      Arab NGO says Hamas forbade members of medical delegation from participating in eastern Jerusalem conference.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 12/11/2011, 8:51 PM

      Gaza woman with baby
      Gaza woman with baby
      Flash 90

      An Gaza-based NGO called the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned the Hamas government of Gaza for preventing five members of a medical delegation from traveling to Jerusalem through the Erez crossing. 

      The delegation was to participate in a medical conference in Jerusalem, and Israel had given a green light for all 19 of its members to travel through its territory. Hamas vetoed the participation of five people who had been selected by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, which is led by rival terror group Fatah. As a result, the World Health Organization called off the participation of the entire delegation.

       PCHR's website said that "at approximately 13:00 on Wednesday, 07 December 2011, Dr. Bassam al-Badri, Director of External Medical Treatment Department, received a phone call from the office of [the] World Health Organization (WHO) in Gaza, informing him that [he] and 4 members of the Higher Medical Committee of the External Medical Treatment Department, nominated by the Ministry of Health in Ramallah, were banned from traveling to Jerusalem to participate in a medical conference which would be held on 08 and 09 December 2011."

      "The conference is organized by the network of hospitals in East Jerusalem, in cooperation with WHO, to support and develop the hospitals of Augusta Victoria (al-Muttala’), al-Maqassed, St. John Eye, Red Crescent, Saint Joseph and Princess Basma.  Dr. al-Badri pointed out that the remaining members of the delegation (9 doctors nominated by the Ministry of Health in Gaza and 5 doctors from NGOs) were not banned." 

      Dr. Mahmoud Dhaher, Director of the WHO Office in Gaza, stated the decision to block 5 of the delegation's members was made by Minister of Health in Gaza, Dr. Bassem Naim, for "no apparent reasons." PCHR called the decision illegal, claiming that "neither the Ministry nor security services have the authority to ban traveling; it is an absolute authority of the judiciary."
      The conference, which is organized by hospitals in Jerusalem in cooperation with WHO, aims at reviewing the level of services provided by Arab hospitals in Jerusalem to patients from the Judea, Samaria and Gaza. 

      PCHR noted that the conference was "an opportunity to reach understandings among parties at a time in which the deterioration in medical shortages and restrictions on medical transfers lead to increased suffering of patients requiring medical treatment within or outside the Gaza Strip."