Israel to close recently-opened medical clinic for people of Gaza at Erez Terminal

An medical treatment clinic set up by the Israeli Ministry of Health “for the people of Gaza” on 18 January, the day after Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire it its military offensive in Gaza, is to be closed down tomorrow (Wednesday), Israel’s YNet website has reported.

The clinic was located in the main Erez Terminal, the only place that people can travel in and out of Gaza from or to Israel. We previously reported on this clinic here when it opened.

The Jerusalem Post previously reported that it was “a humanitarian gesture by Israel following the 22-day operation in Gaza”.

Human Rights groups in Israel criticized the opening of this clinic, and said that it was mainly for propaganda purposes.

Only a few Palestinians from Gaza — maybe not more than 15 — were ever treated at the clinic, which was run by Israel’s Red Magen David Adom (MDA – or red star of David) during its only ten days of operations.

Israeli sources are blaming Hamas for the lack of patients, saying that Hamas instructed civilians not to seek treatment there, and that there was a direct order by Hamas not to transfer the wounded to Israel.

Hamas has not commented on this clinic, but Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah (who has still not reappeared in public) said in a statement today that “We expected France, whose motto is ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ to send hospital ships to treat the children burned by banned weapons or to set up a humanitarian bridge… rather than deploy a navy ship to reinforce the blockade,” in remarks criticizing the deployment of a French frigate to the waters off Gaza, where Israel proclaimed a formal naval blockade since 3 January. The French boat, apparently called the Germinal, is to take part in a mission against arms smuggling into Gaza. The full story can be read here.

“This is why we’ve reached the conclusion that it just isn’t worth the effort”, Ministry official Yair Amikam told Ynet, adding that “despite our best intentions and the willingness of seven or eight physicians to leave their regular work places each day to help out at the clinic, less than five patients have been treated since the beginning of last week”.

YNet reported that a source who was involved in the clinic’s activity said “There are hundreds of Palestinians who want to come, but only a few actually arrived, and none of them were injured during the war in Gaza … [even though] there are no security checks by the Shin Bet at the clinic, so even Hamas members can receive treatment.”

There are extensive security procedures everyone has to go through just to get into the Erez Terminal — including standing with one’s feet wide apart and one’s hands in the air while some kind of advance imaging machines whirl around the body, which is shown as if naked on the computer monitors watched by people sitting at computers and behind protective glass windows a floor above, shouting incomprensibly over a muffled intercom system — and if these procedures do not involve the Shin Bet it would be rather surprising…

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