x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE team waits on release of Palestinian aid confiscated by Israel

Medical team from Dubai stopped by Israeli customs citing the lack of 'proper documentation' at the King Hussein Bridge crossing at the weekend.

“We sent a team member to the Allenby Bridge but she came back empty-handed,” Dr Marc Sinclair, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the CMC, says.
“We sent a team member to the Allenby Bridge but she came back empty-handed,” Dr Marc Sinclair, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the CMC, says.

DUBAI // A medical team from Dubai is still waiting to retrieve about 400 kilograms of medical supplies confiscated by Israeli Customs at a border crossing at the weekend.

The donated medical equipment, being delivered by a doctor and two nurses from the Children’s Medical Centre (CMC) in Dubai, was stopped by Israeli officials for lack of “proper documentation”.

The supplies were for Palestinian children injured in Israel’s recent shelling campaign, and those born with congenital deformities.

It was confiscated at the Allenby bridge, also known as the King Hussein bridge, crossing on the border with Jordan.

“We sent a team member to the Allenby Bridge but she came back empty-handed,” Dr Marc Sinclair, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the CMC, said from Ramallah.

“They said it was not going to happen without a special permit from the Israeli ministry of health. This has never been the case before. We are surprised, to say the least.”

The team, along with doctors and paramedics from Germany, were carrying supplies including surgical sets, gowns, sterile sheets, dressings, sutures, painkillers, antibiotics and teddy bears for the children.

This is the team’s sixth mission to Palestine and was planned to last for a week.

“This is very sad,” said Dr Sinclair, who is also founder of the Dubai charity Little Wings Foundation.

“Making life difficult in the West Bank is an agenda. There is no reason to not let it go. Why would the Israeli health ministry want to block this?

“We tried to tell them it’s for kids but they were just not interested. There is something about Gaza that puts more hatred and makes people nastier. It’s very disappointing.

“We cannot do some of the complicated surgeries. We can do 15 to 18 surgeries if we get back our stuff. Or it will be 10 to 12 surgeries.”

The team has written to the German Embassy in Tel Aviv requesting its intervention to secure the release of the supplies.

The embassy said it was trying to help the team.

“We can confirm that we have been approached by a medical team over the weekend that crossed into the occupied Palestinian Territories and had an issue with missing authorisation concerning their baggage,” said a spokesman for the German Embassy.

“The embassy has been in contact with Israeli authorities at the border to facilitate matters.”

A spokeswoman for Little Wings said: “We use the same documents all the time.

“This could be to do with the ongoing Gaza conflict. They are on tenterhooks.”

pkannan@thenational.ae