Sami Samoudi funeral AP
Mourners carry the body of Sami Samoudi, 23, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Al-Yamoun yesterday. Photo by AP
Text size

The Palestinian Authority has stopped delivering medicine to the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government in Gaza said, claiming there is now a serious shortage of medicine there.

Hamas Health Minister Bassam Naim said the PA halted drug deliveries to the Strip two weeks ago.

For its part, the Palestinian Authority blamed Hamas of stealing medication meant for Gaza civilians and hiding it in storage facilities, later giving it to members of the Hamas government or selling it to civilians and keeping the proceeds for itself.

The issue first hit the Palestinian airwaves two weeks ago, following Naim's claim that there was a shortage of medicine in the Gaza Strip. But two days ago, the Hamas health minister said the group had completed its preparations for a medical emergency - in other words, the possibility of an Israeli military operation in Gaza.

This would indicate that there is a sufficient amount of medicine in the Hamas storage facilities to serve the coastal strip's population. But Hamas' claims to the contrary continued unabated.

During a press conference held by Naim on Wednesday, he once again accused the PA of having stopped delivering all medicine to the Gaza Strip.

The director general of the Health Ministry at the Palestinian Authority, Omar al-Nasser, told Haaretz that the PA had not ceased deliveries of medicines to the Strip. Hamas is making it difficult to transfer the drugs, he said, vowing that his office will ensure that the medicine that is not available there will be delivered.

"The problem is that we are unable to find out what is missing from the stocks [in Gaza]," Nasser said. "Since the [Hamas] coup in Gaza in June 2007, a decision was made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to ensure that Gaza will be stocked with water, food and medicine, because the matter is a 'red-line' issue for us. During 2010, we delivered NIS 71 million worth of medicine to the Strip, all paid for by the Palestinian Authority."

"Since the start of the month, Hamas has received 12 tons of medicines through the Rafah border crossing," he continued. "But it reported only about four types of medicine - which is several dozen kilograms out of 12 tons of medicine. Where are these drugs? We shall send medicine if we know what there is a shortage of, otherwise we will not do it."

Hamas stops buying fuel from PA

Meanwhile, Hamas has stopped buying fuel for the Gaza power plant from the Palestinian Authority. The fuel, which was itself purchased by the PA from Israel, is believed to have been replaced by a stead supply of fuel smuggled in from Egypt through the Rafah tunnels.

This is a significant coup for Hamas, from an economic point of view.

Hamas previously received 150,000 liters of fuel per day from Israel, via the Palestinian Authority.