Gaza Hospital Postpones 200 Surgeries as Workers Strike After Months Without Pay

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The entrance to a room at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, February 11, 2018.
The entrance to a room at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, February 11, 2018.Credit: Palestinian Health Ministry

Some 200 operations planned for Sunday and Monday in hospitals in the Gaza Strip have been postponed due to medical waste piling up as maintenance staff was on strike, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The cleaning and maintenance staff at Gaza’s hospitals went on strike Sunday until further notice to protest the nonpayment of wages.

The 830 people involved work via manpower contractors, but the Health Ministry in Ramallah has failed to pay its share of their salaries for four months. The ministry accuses Hamas of failing to hand over full control over the Strip, a charge Hamas denies.

The manpower contractors supply cleaning services to 13 hospitals as well as dozens of clinics and medical centers in the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza medical system is also badly short of medication and diesel fuel to operate generators that power its hospitals during blackouts.

Palestinian health officials warned that the cleaners’ strike could have grave consequences as garbage piles up at hospitals, including medical waste.

Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the Palestinian Health Ministry, said surgery would have to be postponed because of the cleaners’ strike.

The cleaning services cost about 940,000 shekels ($267,000) a month, Qudra said.

In January the cleaners struck for a few days but returned after receiving part of the money owed them.

At the end of last week, a Hamas delegation headed by Ismail Haniyeh spoke with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo. The Egyptians hope to help the Palestinians resolve the Palestinian Authority-Hamas rift, with the aim of resolving Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.

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