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IOF Restricts Gazan Patients' Access to Hospitals

24-10-2007

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has continued to restrict Gazan patients' access to hospitals inside Israel for treatment.
Even those who manage to obtain permits to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals from IOF face restrictions on their movement.
IOF permits some critical cases to leave Gaza with special permits.
According to field investigations by Al Mezan, 77-year-old Nimir Muhammad Shuheibar died inside Erez Crossing at approximately 12.
30am on Tuesday, 23 October 2007.
Shuheibar suffered from advanced heart problems and was transferred to an Israeli hospital for treatment.
He applied for a permit and obtained it from the Israeli military, and his entry was coordinated by the relevant Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
An ambulance took him to Erez Crossing; the only crossing point Palestinian urgent cases are allowed to pass through, at approximately 5pm on Monday 22 October 2007 in a bad condition.
Nevertheless, IOF did not allow him to pass through for alleged security reasons and he was sent back to Gaza.
After making the necessary coordination for Shuheibar's entry into Israel for the second time, on the next day, an ambulance carrying him arrived at Erez at approximately 10am.
It was made to wait for two hours.
When the ambulance was allowed to pass through, it was too late as the patient died inside the Crossing.
Hundreds of other Palestinians who suffer from serious diseases in the Gaza Strip cannot access hospitals in Israel or abroad.
This despite that Israel is aware of that the Palestinian health sector is unable to handle such cases.
Patients are routinely denied access to necessary treatment in Israel even when they successfully make the required coordination.
Most patients' requests to travel for treatment are refused by IOF.
One of these cases is that of Fatin Al Madhoun; a woman who has been at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City since the late August 2007.
The Hospital does not have the capacity to help her; however, IOF from has refused to allow her access to Israel under security pretexts.
Al Mezan's fieldworkers reported that on 15 June 2007, Israeli bulldozers destroyed the Palestinian coordination offices that used to be responsible for arranging the entry of the Palestinian patients to Israel.
It also destroyed the workers' corridor, the waiting hall, and restrooms inside the Crossing on 26 June 2007.
This has made patients' trip through Erez very difficult; especially since they are made to wait there for long hours there.
Many patients complained about the impacts of these conditions on their heath.
Aside from these troubles, patients have to walk for over a kilometer inside the Crossing to pass through.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns the continued restriction of Palestinian patients' access to hospitals by the IOF.
This conduct represents a violation to the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL), particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and its Additional Protocol I.
It also represents a violation of the international human rights law, which obliges all states to respect and protect the right to health.
The closure Israel imposes on the Gaza Strip has caused rapid deterioration of the quality and capability of the health sector due to serious shortage of medicines and laboratory materials, which makes Gazans more dependent on treatment outside the Strip.
Al Mezan calls the international community to end its silence in the face of Israel's collective punishment of Gaza's population.
Under the current appalling implications of the Israeli measures on civilians' life and wellbeing, silence nears complicity, and has to stop because it only encourages Israel, the occupying power, to continue its violations.
The Center calls the international community to immediately intervene to stop the violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly the Gaza Strip, and to provide international protection for civilians.
Ensuring Palestinians' access to food, medicines, medical equipment, and other life-saving materials is an urgent necessity.
END

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