Gaza: Warnings of deterioration in health, education services over PA employee cuts 

 PNN/ Gaza/

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in a statement said it is deeply concerned over the repercussions of the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against the Gaza Strip population for 2 years on the economic and social conditions and service sectors in the Gaza Strip.

PCHR said it believes that impact of these sanctions affected the health and education sectors in the Gaza Strip, not only constituting a violation of international human rights conventions and Palestinian laws, but that they also have catastrophic consequences on the health and education services provided to the Gaza Strip population that are already deteriorated by the Israeli closure and ongoing political division for 12 years, saying that these actions indicate PA’s abandonment of its legal and administrative responsibilities and obligations towards the Gaza Strip population.

According to PCHR’s investigations, the PA has decided to cut the salaries to about 5043 employees, including 263 employees of the Ministry of Health and 402 employees of the Ministry of Higher Education, in the Gaza Strip. These employees work in hospitals, clinics, health centers, and education directorates in the Gaza Strip governorates. The employees whose salaries were cut include 68 doctors (48 medical specialists and 20 doctors) distributing throughout the hospitals of the Health Ministry: al-Shifa, European and al-Nasser Pediatric. Among the Ministry of Higher Education employees, whose salaries were cut, are 246 teachers while the rest are headmasters, their deputies and administrative staff.

According to PCHR’s follow-up of the salaries crisis, the Palestinian Authority cut the salaries to 263 employees in the Ministry of Health in Gaza.  This will be added to the various crises which the health sector suffers from and would negatively affect the quality of health service and risk the life of patients who receive their treatment in the Intensive Care Unit and Oncology Departments, particularly that of those employees whose salaries were cut are doctors in the European and Shifa hospitals and Naser Pediatric Hospital in addition to the other clinics and healthcare centers.  According to sources in the Ministry of Health, these employees whose salaries were cut are the backbone of the healthcare sector in Gaza as they represent 67% of the medical specialists and 28% of the doctors in the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Zeyad Thabet, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, said to a PCHR’s fieldworker that the cutting-salary policy affected 402 teachers and employees in the Ministry of Higher Education in the Gaza Strip.  He added that these measures have serious impact on the educational process especially that they come following a series of sanctions, including the enforced retirement and financial constraints on the teachers in this sector that result in a psychological impact on teachers making them incapable of securing their obligations towards their sons who are students at universities and schools and even not being able to supporting their family members.  Dr. Thabet also said that in case the Ministry in Gaza resorted to securing the minimum dues of the employees whose salaries were cut, this would be at the expense of the operational expenses of the Ministry and its directorates.

PCHR warned of  the ramifications of the Palestinian government’s decision on THE health and education rights in the Gaza Strip, and called upon the Palestinian President to issue an immediate decision to end all the arbitrary measures against the PA employees in the Gaza Strip, including the health and education sector’s employees, abolish the decision of ceasing their salaries and find ways that contribute to achieving job security and protecting the employees and their families from the deteriorating economic and social conditions.

The center also called upon the Palestinian Government to extricate the health and education sectors from the political bickering, respect the Palestinian law, end all measures that lead to the deterioration of the humanitarian conditions and to fulfill its legal and administrative obligations towards the Gaza Strip.

Finally, it called on the PA to respect its legal obligations upon Palestinian’s accession to the International Covenant on Economic and Social rights in 2014, especially respecting and protecting he right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and also the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights, especially every person’s right to have access to public service in his country.