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Israeli clinic for Gaza civilians closes for lack of patients
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
The Jerusalem Post
2 Feb 2009
The small but well-equipped and staffed medical clinic opened by the Israeli government two weeks ago and operated by Magen David Adom and volunteer physicians has been closed down due to the arrival of only a minuscule number of Gazan civilians seeking treatment, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
The clinic, which was opened at the Erez crossing into Gaza with much fanfare by Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog amid sharp international condemnation of the Israel Defense Forces‚ wounding of civilians during Operation Cast Lead, offered not only medical specialists but also x-ray facilities, a lab and a pharmacy.
It was meant to treat about 50 patients at once - both wounded Palestinians and those suffering from physical ailments. Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar had even called on physicians to volunteer their services to treat wounded from Gaza round the clock.
MDA director Eli Bin said at the opening that running the clinic would be a difficult job, adding that his organization viewed the undertaking as a `humanitarian assignment of the highest priority.`
However, Tony Laurance, acting head of the World Health Organization`s office in Gaza and the West Bank, told The Jerusalem Post just before the opening the doubted that Palestinians would be allowed by their leaders to access the clinic.
The Health Ministry said Sunday that it and the humanitarian services staff set up by the government saw there was no point in keeping it going because only a handful of Gazans had come for care. The impressive clinic had opened with fanfare, and it was closed in a whisper.
The Post learned that the Jordanians, with help from humanitarian groups, have opened a field hospital near Shifa Hospital in Gaza City that is taking care of wounded. In addition, Hamas strongly discouraged residents from going to the Israeli clinic for help.
MDA commented that it did not initiate the establishment of the clinic but only carried out the government`s instructions.
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