GAZA – Public health facilities in the Gaza Strip were crippled on Tuesday when cleaning contractors withdrew their employees after not getting paid for four months.
The crisis is linked to delays in implementing the reconciliation between Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank.
Up to 832 cleaners working at 13 hospitals, 54 care centers and 22 other health facilities have gone without pay for four months, according to Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra, who said that the bill for cleaning services comes to about 228,000 euros ($270,590) a month.
The withdrawal of the cleaners has the potential to disrupt normal activity in operating rooms where an average of 200 procedures are performed on a typical day.
The work stoppage affects some 100 patients in intensive care and 702 people with kidney failure who need dialysis, while also interfering with the operation of 11 blood banks and 50 laboratories where thousands of transfusions and medical tests are performed daily.
Though Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation accord on Oct. 12, the Palestinian Authority continues to maintain financial sanctions on the Gaza administration pending the complete handover of the territory to the PA, with the result that authorities in Gaza find it increasingly hard to find money to pay employees and suppliers.