The Palestinian Canter for Human Rights (PCHR) is gravely concerned over the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) decisions against the Gaza Strip population that directly and seriously undermine their livelihood and basic rights. PCHR believes that exclusion of thousands of public servants, including thousands of the health and education servants, without any legal justification foreshadows both sectors’ collapse and suspension of basic services offered to 2 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, on 04 July 2017, the National Unity Government issued a decision to put 6,145 civil servants in the Gaza Strip on early retirement, thousands of whom work in the health and education sectors. This decision would aggravate the already deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, let alone the inhuman and illegal nature of the decision that violates the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said to PCHR’s fieldworker that about 3,679 staff members of the Gaza Health Ministry receive their salaries from the Unity Government in Ramallah. Therefore, they are expected to be retired. Among those staff members are 942 doctors, including consultants and specialists (26%); 876 nurses (24%); 221 pharmacy employees; 96 X-ray technicians; 55 physiotherapy employees, 99 engineering and maintenance employees; 67 supervisory employees; and 22 engineers in different fields. Dr. al-Qedra added that putting them on retirement, mainly the consultants and specialists, would stop services, especially at hospitals offering treatment for serious diseases like tumors, cardiac problems, kidney, obstetrics and gynecology and at nurseries. This foreshadows a serious collapse of health services in the Gaza Strip.Mo’tasem al-Minawi, Director of the Education Ministry’s Public and International Relations in Gaza, explained to PCHR’s fieldworker that about 5,000 employees at the Ministry receive their salaries from the Unity Government in Ramallah and are expected to be put on retirement. Putting this decision into effect would break down the educational services offered to the Gaza Strip population, especially as these employees are experts in their field.
This decision is part of a series of PNA’s measures against the Gaza Strip. Those measures included deducting one third of the public servants’ salaries under the pretext of austerity measures adopted by the PNA; minimizing the number of medical referrals abroad for the Gaza Strip patients; minimizing the medical consignments and disposables; and suspending dues of 277 former prisoners.
According to statements made by PNA officials, the application of these measures depend on Hamas ending the division; stopping all steps taken in this context; dissolving its administrative committee; and enabling the National Unity Government to assume its responsibilities towards the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, 05 August 2017, the Palestinian President announced that he would continue to diminish funds spent on Gaza in case the Hamas’ administrative committee continues to administer the Gaza Strip.
PCHR previously criticized the formation of the administrative committee in Gaza and warned that it would be a setback for the reconciliation efforts and would also institutionalize the division. However, it is unacceptable that PNA takes such harsh measures and collectively punishes 2 million Palestinians.
In light of the above, PCHR:
- Calls upon the Palestinian President and National Unity Government to immediately reverse the punitive measures against the Gaza Strip, especially that these measures punish the civilians and threaten their lives. Moreover, these measures do not constitute the right choice to end the division and put pressure on Hamas;
- Calls upon Hamas movement to dissolve the administrative committee in Gaza. In case the committee continues to be in charge, this will be a setback for the reconciliation efforts and will institutionalize the division, paving the way for isolating the Gaza Strip and serving the Israeli interests;
- Calls upon the parties to the internal conflict to apply fully and immediately the reconciliation agreement “Shat’i Agreement signed in April 2014;”
- Demands allowing the National Unity Government to freely work in the Gaza Strip and fully assume its responsibilities without any obstacles to meet civilians’ needs; and
- Calls for immediately setting preparations for the legislative and presidential elections as both parties to the conflict lack the democratic legitimacy.