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2011 'toughest year yet' for Gaza medics

Dec. 31, 2011 11:38 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 2, 2012 11:48 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- As 2011 draws to an end, medical shortages in the Gaza Strip have reached their highest levels, a spokesman for Gaza's Health Ministry said Saturday.

Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that medics in the besieged coastal enclave had to cope with shortages of medicine and medical equipment on a daily basis, affecting over one-third of patients.

Patients with chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney failure and neuritis were the worst affected, al-Qidra said.

Hospitals and health centers have totally run out of 145 basic medicines and 150 types of medical equipment, he added.

Al-Qidra noted that medical shortages coincided with Israeli threats to launch a large scale offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The head of the Israeli army's Southern Brigade Tal Hermoni told reporters on Wednesday that forces were ready for a new military operation on Gaza.

"We are preparing and in fact are ready for another campaign, which will be varied and different, to renew our deterrence," Hermoni said.

On Tuesday, Israel's army chief Benny Gantz marked the three-year anniversary of Israel's last war on Gaza by hailing the invasion as "an excellent operation." Around 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the devastating three-week attack.

Gantz told Army Radio that Israel should initiate another invasion of the Gaza Strip and that it must be "swift and painful."

In 2011, Israeli forces killed 124 people in Gaza including 20 children and two women, al-Qidra said. Over 600 people were injured in Israeli attacks, the health ministry official added.

Meanwhile, residents and hospitals had to cope with 8-hour power cuts most days in 2011 due to diesel shortages.

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