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Cablegate: Gaza Health Care Becomes Pawn in Hamas-Fatah Power

VZCZCXRO2694
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #1818/01 2410450
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290450Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8848
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 001818

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE; NEA/IPA FOR
WILLIAMS/SHAMPAINE/BELRADE; PRM FOR PDAS GREENE AND
PRM/ANE; NSC FOR ABRAMS/WATERS; TREASURY FOR
SZUBIN/LOEFFLER/NUGENT/HIRSON; BRUSSELS FOR LERNER; PLEASE
PASS TO USAID FOR KUNDER/MCCLOUD/BORODIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON KPAL KWBG PGOV PHUM
SUBJECT: GAZA HEALTH CARE BECOMES PAWN IN HAMAS-FATAH POWER
STRUGGLE

REF: JERUSALEM 1764

1. (SBU) Summary: In reaction to Hamas' replacement of
Fatah-affiliated hospital administrators in Gaza (reftel),
the Fatah-affiliated labor unions of the Ministry of Health
(MOH) in Gaza have been conducting work-stoppages as of
August 23. An estimated 95 percent of MOH hospital employees
have been working only from 0800-1100, Sunday through
Thursday, according to Gaza-based World Health Organization
(WHO) contacts. Union leaders have stated that the
work-stoppage is scheduled until September 13, when a full
strike may be called if Hamas does not stop "interfering in
the Gaza health care sector." Hamas, in turn, has threatened
to close down Gaza's "private clinics," which are, in
general, the homes of Fatah-affiliated physicians who have
been consulting patients from home (and charging fees) since
the work-stoppage began. MOH pharmacies remain open only
three hours each day and hospital in-patients are tended
mostly by their family members. End summary.

Hamas-Fatah Battles
Extend To Health Care
---------------------

2. (SBU) Gaza-based OCHA representative Hamada al-Bayari
told econoff August 28 that Hamas replaced several
PA-appointed hospital administrators in early August,
alleging that they were unprofessional, incompetent and had
stolen vast amount of hospital furniture for personal use.
Gaza-based WHO information officer Dalia Salhah told econoff
August 27 that the new Hamas-affiliated hospital
administrators are experienced MOH hands, who, as a result of
accepting the Hamas-filled positions, are no longer receiving
PA salaries. She said that these new Hamas-affiliated
administrators accepted their new positions due to their
Hamas loyalties, and may receive cash payments from Hamas in
place of PA salaries.

3. (SBU) The Fatah-affiliated MOH unions in Gaza, including
those of physicians, pharmacists, technicians, and
administrators, instructed their membership on August 23 to
conduct work-stoppages during all hours but 0800-1100, Sunday
through Thursday, in protest of Hamas' replacement of
high-level Fatah-affiliated hospital administrators.
According to news reports, the work-stoppage was explicitly
ordered by the Fatah political leadership. Salhah said that
roughly 95 percent of all MOH hospital employees have
participated in the work-stoppages, limiting health care
options for Gaza residents to private hospitals and clinics,
and NGO health care facilities. She said that the medical
union leadership plans to continue the work-stoppage until
September 13, when a full strike may be called if Hamas does
not stop "interfering in the Gaza health care sector."


Gaza Physicians Double-Dipping
------------------------------

4. (SBU) OCHA's al-Bayari said that PA hospital physicians
participating in the work stoppage are returning to their
homes at 1100 to run private clinics, charging patients NIS
40-50 (USD 10-12) per visit. (Note: News reports August 28
state that Hamas plans to close-down all private clinics that
are not licensed and registered. Hamas has claimed that the
striking doctors are taking advantage of Gaza's sick by
earning full PA salaries and charging patients at private
clinics in the afternoon hours. End note)

Nurses Affiliated With Hamas
Resist Work Stoppage
--------------------

5. (SBU) Salhah said that the MOH union of nurses in Gaza
refused initially to participate in the work stoppages, as
its members had been affiliated with Hamas and did not object
strongly to Hamas' administrative changes. She said that the
PA threatened to withhold the nurses salaries, therefore the
union leadership on August 26 instructed its membership to
participate in the work stoppages.

Poor Health Care Made Worse
---------------------------

JERUSALEM 00001818 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) According to Salhah, Gaza MOH pharmacists are
closing their operations at 1100 hours, as well, making it
more difficult for Gazans for purchase medicine. She
underscored that emergency services have remained open
24-hours a day in all public hospitals, with a select few
nurses managing in-patient services around the clock. She
added that family members have been helping to care for
patients requiring over-night hospitalization, but that
hospital bed sheets, floors, and restrooms remain soiled,
meals unavailable, and doctors' visits rare.

DUFFY

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