Thursday, April 27, 2006

[ePalestine] "...medicine in their chemo treatments has already been diluted by up to 30%" / Call for your stories

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Dear friends,

As my father entered his third and final phase of chemotherapy in the US last week (thankfully fully recovering from bladder cancer), this USA Today article makes my blood boil.

As if it was not enough that Palestinian children are born into a life of despair, the US is now on a global crusade to punish Palestinian families for voting into government the "wrong" party.

I wonder what caused more damage to our world, Hamas or the Shock and Awe fiasco?  At least Hamas has stopped indiscriminate bombings for the time being, and hopefully forever.

Democracy truly is only an experiment,


"Saqqa, a physician, says some of the patients here will die within weeks as the supply of drugs dwindles. His cancer patients don't know it, he says, but the medicine in their chemo treatments has already been diluted by up to 30%."

Hamas' big win leads to a huge loss in financial support for Palestinians 

Updated 4/24/2006 10:23 PM ET
By Matthew Gutman, USA TODAY 

GAZA CITY — Juma Saqqa's gaze darts over the spectral figures hooked up to chemotherapy drips at Shifa Hospital's oncology ward. 

Saqqa, a physician, says some of the patients here will die within weeks as the supply of drugs dwindles. His cancer patients don't know it, he says, but the medicine in their chemo treatments has already been diluted by up to 30%. 

Shifa Hospital is one of dozens of Palestinian institutions running low on money and supplies since a government led by the armed group Hamas was sworn in March 29. 

The United States and the European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist organization, as does Israel, and are boycotting the new government. Donor nations have slashed their assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and Israel has suspended the transfer of tax and customs revenue it collects on the authority's behalf. 

Hamas has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks that have killed about 400 Israelis since September 2000. The group's charter calls for the destruction of Israel. 

The loss of revenue has paralyzed Palestinian government institutions, left salaries unpaid and deepened poverty, according to a report released last week by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

Rationing medicine 

The report warns of an imminent humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. It predicts that unemployment could jump to 40% this year from about 30% now, and that two-thirds of Palestinians will live under the poverty line, compared with a little over 40% in 2005. 

Gazans already feel the pinch. At Shifa Hospital, even bandages and toilet paper are rationed, Saqqa says. Shifa, a clump of dusty buildings in bustling downtown Gaza City, is the largest hospital in Gaza, which is home to about 1.5 million Palestinians. The hospital is funded by the Hamas-run Health Ministry. 

Edward Abington, a former U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem who advises the Palestinian Authority, says salaries at the hospital have not been paid, and the authority has been unable to buy medicine. 

Foreign donations, mostly from the European Union, made up about one-third of the roughly $2 billion Palestinian annual budget before Hamas' overwhelming victory in elections in January. 

Hamas is looking elsewhere for money. Iran, Qatar and other countries have pledged a total of about $200 million to keep the Palestinian Authority afloat. But Palestinian Finance Minister Omar Abdel Raziq told the Associated Press last week that none of it has arrived. 

The U.S. State Department has attempted to shift money toward humanitarian aid to try to isolate the government without hurting ordinary Palestinians. The department got the Palestinian Authority to return $45 million in U.S. aid last year and redirected that money toward humanitarian relief. 

Humanitarian aid this year from the United States will be $245 million. Most of that money is to be channeled through the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees. 

However, 152,000 Palestinians are on the government payroll, so any effort to isolate the government will have an impact on the economy. The Palestinian government has been the largest employer since Israel closed its borders to most Palestinian workers after the intifada, the uprising against Israel, began in September 2000. 

The bulk of the authority's 2005 budget went to pay civil servants, including about 70,000 members of the Palestinian security forces, the U.N. report says. Those government employees, who last received their wages for February, are the primary breadwinners for one in four Palestinians, it says. 

Groceries on credit 

James Kunder, a U.S. Agency for International Development official, acknowledged last month that cutting money to the Palestinian government would have an impact on ordinary citizens. "You cannot work in any society without having some contact with the government," he says. He testified before a House committee that more than 50% of Palestinians get their health care from government clinics. 

Mahmud Abdu, a sergeant guarding the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing terminal — a quarter-mile-long gauntlet of blast walls separating Israel from Gaza — says he hasn't been paid in two months. 

"One more month of this, and I will begin staying home," he says. 

An increase in jobless men could lead to a rise in violence, says David Shearer, director of the U.N. humanitarian office that prepared the report. "We'll soon see the rapid rise of security incidents," he says. 

Osama Attar, a grocer in Gaza, says his customers are increasingly pressed for money. From under the cash register he pulls out seven ledgers crammed with customers' debts. "Everybody lives on credit, including me," he says. 

Contributing: Barbara Slavin in Washington

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From:   "Jeff Abood" <>

Call for your stories

I am putting out this call for your stories. You are aware from going to Palestine, the one thing we are all, almost universally asked, is to "tell the world our story". In an effort to honor this request, I am in the process of assembling a book. But a book that is a little different. This is not a book on the history, or the politics, or the tragedy of the current situation. All of these have been told and been told well. 

Instead, this is a book of stories, whose purpose is to show the world, the dignity and love and resistance and valor and perseverance and hope, that is the Palestinian people. It is vital to convey these stories to America, to dispel the myths that plague our people. It is important also, to assemble these for Palestinians, to provide (I hope) a much needed source of encouragement and hope. I do not have enough stories to do this alone. 

So, if you have any stories that show the strength and dignity and hope of Palestinian people, please allow me to include them in the telling of this tale. Email me at Include as many details as you can, so it reads well. You may or may not choose to change names. And, it is important to remember that the power of these stories is not in how they end (for all too many do not end well), but the power, is in the actions and character of it's people. I would for this project to fail because people didn't take the time to write down a story. It is my hope that with your help, to do this service and to do it well. 

Thank you for your time,
Jeff Abood


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