In an otherwise informative and moving story about efforts to transport a sick Afghan baby to Israeli for life-saving surgery, reporter Diaa Hadid asserted that “Gaza hospitals are perennially short of medicine, equipment and well-trained staff because of Israeli restrictions on travel and trade, and many Gaza residents struggle to get exit permits for care outside the territory” (Aug. 14, 2016, “Unlikely Facebook Friendship Saves Afghan Baby With Heart Defect“).
CAMERA informed editors it is untrue that “Israeli restrictions on travel and trade” extend to medicine and most medical equipment.
As Gisha, hardly a source sympathetic to Israeli policies on Gaza, notes: “Currently, Israel allows the entrance of all civilian goods into the Gaza Strip, with the exception of a list of materials defined as ‘dual-use,’ which, according to Israel, can be used for military purposes.” Gisha’s separate page on dual-use items notes that x-ray machines are in the list of such restricted items, but does not include any other medical equipment.
Meanwhile, other factors contribute to a shortage of medicine in the Strip. A year ago, for example, a spokesman for the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip “accused the Palestinian consensus government of not fulfilling its duties toward Gaza, saying, “The Ministry of Health under the consensus government should transfer 40% of its medicine in Ramallah, most of which is provided by international parties, to the Gaza Strip, while 60% remains for the West Bank. However, only around 5% to 7% actually reaches the strip.”
To its credit, the newspaper published a correction on Aug. 22 informing readers that “An earlier version of this article overstated the impact of Israeli restrictions on travel and trade in the Gaza Strip. Although they have made the import of some medical equipment difficult, the import of medicine is not restricted.”