Courtesy of UNICEF - Eyad El-Baba
CAIRO – 14 July 2017: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a left-wing Palestinian political faction, published a statement on Thursday saying that “the price that the Palestinian people pay in the Gaza Strip is so much more precious and important than the narrow partisan gains that are achieved by playing with lives of innocent Palestinians.”
PFLP criticized both the Hamas and Fatah parties for the ongoing punitive measures against each other in recent weeks amidst a deepening political crisis. Furthermore, the PFLP rejected the move by Hamas, who is controlling the Gaza Strip since 2006, to prevent members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah Central Committee from leaving the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. “The ban and the obstruction of movement from Gaza to the West bank is a policy that Hamas follows, violating all rights and personal freedom, and damages national relations,” according to the PFLP statement.
PLFP demanded Hamas and its security forces “immediately stop this policy and create the suitable atmosphere for better national relations and avoid any tensions that deepen the national conflict and violate rights and freedom guaranteed for all Palestinians in West Bank and in Gaza Strip.”
In addition, the statement criticized the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) and described its recent measures against the Palestinian people in Gaza as “collective punishment.” The statement added that the situation has worsened in the Strip due to the dire electricity crisis and said that Israel and the PA are responsible for this crisis. The PFLP extended its demands to the PA, requesting it immediately stop its policy of collective punishment and to stop “holding hostage the lives of more than two million Palestinians” in Gaza.
The PFLP also held the United Nations (UN) and international organizations responsible for the “disasters that could happen” in case vital services like water, health and
continue to be absent in the Gaza Strip.
The left-wing faction also warned Israel against the results of the continued siege on the Gaza Strip, saying that “a popular explosion will eventually burst against all who caused the suffering of the people,” according to the statement.
Political divisions between Fatah and Hamas have been at an all-time high in recent months. The PA cut salaries of its Gaza-based employees by up to 30 percent in April, while also discontinuing payments to some 277 former political prisoners of Israel, with reports indicating that the move targeted former prisoners in Gaza and those affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank. Later in May, the PA decided to cut funding for Israeli fuel to the coastal enclave leading to dramatic reduce in electricity supply to Gaza that is already reeling from lack of adequate access to electricity and fuel despite recent fuel shipments from Egypt. In July, the PA forced more than 6,150 employee in the Gaza Strip into early retirement.
Furthermore, in recent weeks the PA halted medical referrals to patients in Gaza to receive medical treatment outside the territory and cut its funding to the medical sector from the typical $ 4 million monthly budget of Gaza’s health ministry to just $500,000.
“The situation in Gaza has become increasingly precarious over recent months. No one is untouched by the energy crisis, and restrictions by the Palestinian Authority in the medical sector are hitting some of the most vulnerable adults and children in the Strip,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for the oPt, Robert Piper, in a July 3 meeting with diplomats and donors in Jerusalem.
The PA also decided last month to block 11 Palestinian news websites allegedly affiliated with either the Hamas movement or dismissed Fatah leader, Mohammed Dahlan, which has been condemned by rights groups as a serious violation of freedom of the press and expression.
Both the PA and Hamas have accused the other of leading politically-motivated arrests on their members in Gaza and the West Bank, while the PA has condemned Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip, which it has said allows Hamas to collect taxes and run the government while the PA provides millions of dollars in infrastructure projects and electricity provisions.
The U.N. warned on Tuesday that Gaza, which marked its tenth year since the internal conflict between Hamas and Fatah faction that resulted in Hamas controlling the Strip in 2007, is going in a degenerative process leading the area to become unlivable by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and the effects of Israel's longstanding blockade.
“We talk about the inhospitable nature of Gaza. When you’re down to two hours of power a day and you have 60 percent youth unemployment rates… that inhospitable threshold has been passed quite a long time ago.” said the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) for the oPt,
Piper told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.