June 2010 This paper reviews Israel's exit policy at the Erez Crossing as it affects Palestinian patients and Israeli-imposed restrictions on their passage from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, Jordan and Israel in order to undergo medical treatment unavailable in Gaza.
The paper argues that there is a consistent Israeli policy of distinguishing between life-threatening cases and cases that affect quality of life, analyzing both the medical-ethical and legal aspects of the subject.
It is the position of Physicians for Human Rights â€“ Israel (PHR-IL), Al Mezan and Adalah that Israel must allow every patient requiring medical treatment that is unavailable in Gaza access to treatment outside the Strip without delay.
Israel has adopted a categorical distinction between life-threatening and non-life-threatening cases, which continues to be followed today, in violation of the principles of medical ethics and international law.
Despite Israel's position that it no longer bears any responsibility towards the Gaza Strip, it is still considered an Occupying Power under international law and has consequent obligations toward the population of Gaza.
These obligations include allowing access to medical care for every Gaza patient in need, and thus by failing to find solutions to allow patients with â€œsecurity prohibitionsâ€ to exit the Strip to receive medical care, Israel is failing to meet its obligations.
Further, Israel's reluctance to reconsider rejected applications by patients who do not fall within its delineated medical criteria, based on a political decision made in September 2007, is foreign to medicine and to medical ethics.
These harsher criteria â€“ still in effect today â€“ constitute a further layer of Israel's policy of tightening the closure of the Gaza Strip, imposing hardship on its residents and limiting their movement.