Gaza cancer patients die as Israeli blockade prevents treatment
Five women cancer patients died in August after being prevented from attending hospital appointments outside of the Gaza Strip, an advocacy group has said.
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) said in a statement on Wednesday that the deaths were the highest number of such fatalities in a month on record with one further cancer patient death taking place since then.
MAP said 30 people dying already this year after being prevented from attending treatment outside of Gaza, indicating that 2017 will be the worst year on record.
"Denying women access to potentially life-saving treatment is indefensible", said Aimee Shalan, CEO of MAP.
"It underlines both the severity of the humanitarian emergency in Gaza and the urgent need for man-made barriers to accessing health care to be lifted," Shalan added.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade, while its sole crossing with Egypt has also been largely closed in recent years.
MAP called on the UK and other governments to demand an end to Israel’s closure and blockade of Gaza, deemed "collective punishment" by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In July, the UN warned Gaza may already be "unlivable" after a decade of Hamas rule and the crippling blockade.
"We predicted some years ago that Gaza would fast become unlivable on a host of indicators and that deadline is actually approaching even faster than we predicted -- from health access, to energy to water," said Robert Piper, the UN's top humanitarian official in the Palestinian territories.
Gaza's power supply was down to as little as two hours a day, medical care had been slashed and youth unemployment was over 60 percent.