World Bulletin/News Desk
Palestinian medical workers and patients on Thursday gathered outside the Rafah border crossing – which links Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to the blockaded Gaza Strip – to protest the closure of the crossing by Egyptian authorities for the last two weeks.
Scores of doctors, aid responders and patients took part in the protest, which was organized by the Palestinian Health Ministry, along with the heads of several Gaza hospitals.
Demonstrators called for the speedy reopening of the Rafah crossing, which represents Gaza's only window to the outside world following the closure of the Palestinian enclave's other crossings, which link it to the occupied West Bank and Israel.
"Successive crises continue to beset the health sector in the Gaza Strip," Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qodra said at a press conference convened on the sidelines of the protest.
"These crises negatively affect health services in all [of the Gaza Strip's] hospitals and medical facilities," he added.
Egyptian authorities sealed the Rafah crossing on October 24 following an attack on an Egyptian military site in the Sinai Peninsula that left 31 Egyptian troops dead and 30 others injured.
Apart from the border closure, Egyptian authorities also decided to evacuate the border area inside Sinai in a bid to dismantle a network of smuggling tunnels linking the peninsula to the Palestinian territory.
Al-Qodra said the border closure was depriving the Gaza Strip of much-needed medicine and medical supplies.
He added that Gazan medical patients were also prevented from reaching specialized hospitals in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem as a result of the closure.
"We're only demanding the right of medical patients to medicine," al-Qodra said, calling on Egypt to reopen the crossing so that Palestinian patients could seek medical treatment abroad.
Al-Qodra also called on the Egyptian authorities to allow medical delegations into the Gaza Strip, noting that such visits to the embattled enclave "serve to help alleviate patients' suffering."
Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2014, 16:26