Gaza's Al-Quds hospital gets new emergency room
The emergency room at Gaza City's Al-Quds hospital, which was damaged during Israel's 2008-2009 invasion, reopened on Wednesday as part of a two-million-euro project funded by France.
The new emergency facility at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society hospital, is intended to serve as diagnostic centre, and will soon be equipped with high-tech European medical equipment.
The renovation project began in February in spite of an Israeli blockade which severely restricted the import of the construction materials needed to rebuild Gaza's crumbling infrastructure.
Israel imposed the blockade in 2006 after Gaza militants snatched an Israeli soldier during a cross-border raid, and tightened it a year later when Hamas seized control of Gaza.
But the restrictions were loosened this summer after a deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla attempting to break the embargo on Gaza.
"These rehabilitation works started in February 2010 and required the entry of numerous building materials, which was facilitated by the commitments obtained by France from the Israeli government," the French consulate said in a statement.
At a ceremony opening the new facility, which includes emergency room beds with high-tech monitoring equipment and a medical laboratory, consul-general Frederic Desagneaux it showed French support for the Palestinians.
"Our commitment to Al-Quds hospital will continue, our commitment to the needs of the people of Gaza will continue," he said.
More than half of the two million euros (2.6 million euros) set aside for the project is being used to buy equipment, while another 300,000 euros (400,000 dollars) is being spent on training staff and reorganising the facility's administration.
"This is not the end of the project and of French assistance to the Al-Quds hospital," Desagneaux said, adding that France would continue to lobby for the end of restrictions on Gaza's imports and exports, and for increased freedom of movement for its 1.5 million residents.
"We are aiming at securing the conditions that will make the reconstruction and development of Gaza possible," he said.
© 2010 AFP