The Israeli authorities at Erez crossing have arrested the patient-companion of a Gaza resident headed to an East Jerusalem hospital. Patient Iyad Salah Abu Daher, 39, who has an aortic aneurysm, was turned back from the crossing and effectively denied care after his sister, Samar Salah Abu Daher, 35, was arrested. Both Samar and Iyad held Israeli-issued crossing permits. With total control over the Gaza-Israel parameter the Israeli authorities regulate the movement of people in and out of Gaza and often detain patients and the people accompanying them to the hospital. Israel’s stringent closure restrictions on Gaza residents, which are considered a collective punishment under international law, make patients one of the most vulnerable groups in Gaza, as they rely on Israeli-issued exit permits to obtain medical care that isn’t available in Gaza.
In early October 2018, after being referred for medical care to Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem, Iyad applied for the Israeli-issued exit permit. He wasn’t granted a permit and shortly after Samar was requested to interview by the Israeli security services. On 8 October 2018, she attended a 90-minute interview regarding her request to accompany her brother.
In late November, Iyad applied for the second time for a permit and he was informed on Wednesday, 5 December that his request had been approved. He was told to cross on Thursday, 6 December. At 8am, Iyad and Samar, who was issued the patient-companion permit, left for Erez. Upon arriving at the crossing, Samar underwent another interview with Israeli intelligence and Iyad was later interviewed as well. At 11am, Samar was requested to interview for a third time. Iyad reported that it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to endure the extended wait time and that he was becoming anxious. At 9pm, an Israeli security agent told Iyad to return to Gaza and to wait for his sister there. He returned to Gaza without receiving the much-needed medical care.
Al Mezan’s monitoring shows that since the beginning of 2018, one patient and four patient-companions have been arrested by the Israeli authorities at Erez while exiting on Israeli-issued permits. Israel’s closure restrictions mean that patients are routinely delayed and denied the care they need both because the care isn’t made available in Gaza and because Israel’s permit system is not compatible with right to health or freedom of movement standards. In 2018 alone, eight patients, including three women, died after their permits were delayed or denied by the Israeli authorities.
The physical and psychological pain that patients endure while attempting to obtain Gaza exit-permits is a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In the gravest cases, the Israeli authorities violate the right to life of the patient by implementing restrictions that prevent them from receiving life-saving care that is a mere hour’s drive. Al Mezan calls on the international community to ensure that international humanitarian and human rights laws are respected by the occupying power and that the Israeli restrictions on the rights of patients are removed.