The European Union postponed funding for school textbook updates by $230 million, denying Palestinians access to food and medication.
A humanitarian organization has warned that recurrent delays in sending supplies to critical sectors in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip imperil Palestinian lives, with fatal implications for patients seeking treatment in occupied East Jerusalem hospitals.
The EU has withheld around $230 million in Palestinian aid since 2021 because Palestinian school textbooks must be rewritten.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the suspension of aid paralyzes essential sectors and impedes services, particularly healthcare in occupied East Jerusalem, where hospitals provide life-saving care to Palestinians from the territory.
These limitations punish terminally ill patients by denying them access to life-saving medicines and forcing children to go hungry if their parents are unable to purchase food. “The Palestinians are paying the highest price for Brussels’ political actions,” NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland remarked on Tuesday.
According to the rights organization, at least 500 cancer patients diagnosed since September 2021 have been unable to obtain effective, life-saving treatments at Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem.
According to the Lutheran World Federation, a transnational communion of churches that operates the hospital, this has resulted in preventable fatalities. According to the group’s statement, individuals who are already being treated at the hospital have experienced considerable delays in receiving essential care.
The EU’s decision to withhold essential aid has also hampered the cash support needed by Palestinians. According to the organization, up to 120,000 people, most of whom live in Gaza, have not received financial aid since November 2021, while the pay of Palestinian Authority (PA) employees has been reduced by 20%.
“We do not wish to live in the same way as the rest of humanity.” Muhammad, a 74-year-old Gaza resident whose only source of income is charity from the EU-funded Ministry of Social Development, observed that a fifth of their life would suffice. He has been denied cash assistance for nearly two years, which he desperately needs to maintain his crippled wife and pay for decent housing.
Years of Israeli siege and shelling have devastated Gaza, pushing many Palestinians into poverty and leaving 63 percent of the population in need of humanitarian aid and support.
According to ECHO, the European Civil Protection, and Humanitarian Aid Operations, 2,1 million Palestinians out of a total population of 5,3 million require humanitarian help. The EU has been the PA’s primary donor since 2000, contributing $1.4 billion under the European Union Joint Strategy 2017-2020 and $886 million in humanitarian aid.
Fifteen EU member states wrote to the European Commission, expressing their displeasure with the delay and urging that the funds be released as soon as possible.