Massive Gaza funeral march

The funeral of the 26-year-old Palestinian martyr Ahmed Manasra

JERUSALEM –  Thousands marched in the funeral procession on Sunday afternoon of 24-year-old Palestinian, Habib al-Masri, who was killed during night protests in the northern besieged Gaza Strip.

Thousands of mourners carried al-Masri’s body on their shoulders from his home in Beit Hanoun to the local mosque before burial in the town’s cemetery.

Mourners waved the Palestinian flag and shouted slogans condemning Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

Al-Masri was shot and wounded in the chest by live Israeli fire during Saturday’s night protests along the eastern borders of northern Gaza, and died of his wounds on Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, the upcoming Arab summit, scheduled for March 31 in Tunis, will have the Palestinian issue top of its agenda, according to Mahmoud Afifi, spokesman for the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmad Abu el-Ghait.

He told reporters in Cairo the preparatory meetings will start on March 26, to be followed by a meeting of the Economic and Social Council on March 28, then the Arab foreign ministers on March 29.

He said the Palestinian issue in general, particularly the political and difficult economic situation following Israel’s theft of the Palestinian tax revenues will be discussed to urge the Arab countries to help the Palestinians financially.

Abu el-Ghait has been in touch with Arab leaders and sent them letters urging them to pay their financial dues to the Palestinian budget.

  • The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said yesterday that it is strongly against the trial of a reporter over a story she wrote almost three years ago exposing corruption in medical transfers for Gaza patients.

It said the Gaza Magistrate Court is scheduled to hold a trial today for the journalist, Hajer Harb, over a story she published on June 25, 2016, in which she exposed corruption in the referral of patients by the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

After the publication of the investigative story, a doctor filed a complaint with the attorney general in Gaza claiming he was damaged by the report. As a result, Harb was detained, interrogated then released.

Shortly after, Harb left the Gaza Strip for medical treatment abroad, but while she was away a court sentenced her in absentia on June 4th, 2017, for six months in prison and $300 fine.

When she returned to Gaza early last year, she appealed the ruling and several hearings were held. Today’s hearing is supposed to include the ruling.

PCHR said it strongly opposes filing any charges against the reporter based on her journalistic work, stressing that the attorney general should have investigated the charges of corruption exposed in the report instead of the journalist.

It expressed hope the court would stand up for freedom of the press and expression, throw out the complaint against Harb, dismiss all charges against her and compensate her for the material and psychological damage she suffered all these years.

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has delivered essential medicines, medical consumables and equipment contributed by the European Union to respond to the growing trauma and emergency care needs in the Gaza Strip, according to a press release.

Supplies delivered by WHO will be used to enhance the ability of the 10 trauma stabilisation points (TSPs), run by Ministry of Health and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, to provide life-and limb-saving care to those injured during demonstrations and protests.

Interventions provided at the TSPs are of vital importance as trauma casualty rates remain high and the resources available in Gaza are scarce.

In response, WHO, in its press release, said it ‘works to strengthen all levels of trauma management and to ensure that at the pre-hospital level, the TSP teams have vital medicines and equipment for triage and initial treatment of the injured.’

The shipment is sufficient to cover the needs of about 120,000 mildly injured or 20,000 severely injured patients.

In addition to medicines and medical supplies, WHO delivered four tents for each TSP to make sure the teams have adequate space to treat patients with different levels of trauma severity.

Five TSPs were equipped with generators to run basic services, such as oxygen provision for patients.

WHO will also provide the TSP teams with inflatable tents that can be set up within minutes in case of emergency and provide the flexibility to be moved quickly to alternative locations to treat people in need.

‘Resource gaps in trauma care may lead to preventable long-term disability or even worse health outcomes.

‘WHO and humanitarian health partners are working together to ensure that TSPs have the capacity to stabilise patients, to decrease the risk of preventable trauma complications or the loss of limbs, and to ensure better health outcomes,’ says Gerald Rockenschaub, head of WHO’s office for the occupied Palestinian territory.

‘We are grateful to the European Union for their continuous support which helps us to support essential trauma services in the Gaza Strip.’

Currently, the majority of all trauma patients are passing through the trauma stabilisation points, where almost half of them are being treated and discharged while others receive the necessary care to stabilise them for the referral to the hospital for further interventions.

In addition to the massive existing trauma needs, the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return may result in more casualties.

WHO and health cluster partners have developed contingency plans to cope with the health needs in the hours running up to the next escalation of the situation in Gaza and to prevent death and disability.

To further boost all levels of trauma care, WHO recently appealed for $5.3 million.

Meanwhile, two Palestinian freedom fighters have now spent 33 years behind Israeli prison bars, said the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

Rushdi Hamdan Abu Mokh, 56, and Ibrahim Nayef Abu Mokh, 58, from Baqa al-Gharbiyeh, an Arab town inside Israel, were arrested on March 24, 1968 and each sentenced to life in prison for resisting the Israeli occupation.

They are among 12 Palestinians from inside Israel who have been held in prison for over three decades.

The 12 were supposed to be released after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and again in an American-led deal in 2014, but in both instances Israel stalled over their release and kept them in prison.