2018 saw an increase of over 8% in the number of refusals on this ground compared to 2017.
Victims of this policy include a 15-year-old with venous thrombosis and a father of 11 with retinal detachment.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel (Jaffa) and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) petitioned the High Court of Justice against Israel’s policy of denying medical care to Palestinian patients living in the Gaza Strip claiming that they would illegally move their residence to the West Bank. The petition seeks to revoke the Israeli demand that patients secure the return of relatives, originally from Gaza, who are staying in the West Bank or in Israel without permit as a condition for allowing the patients to leave Gaza for medical treatment. The petition was submitted by Adv. Tamir Blank.
In their petition, the NGOs point to a significant increase in the number of refusals on this ground in 2018 compared to 2017. According to freedom-of-information act data obtained by Physicians for Human Rights Israel, in 2017 Israeli authorities denied 379 requests to exit Gaza (by 208 female and 171 male patients) on the ground that their relatives were illegally residents in Israel or the occupied West Bank. In some of the replies by the Military Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, an additional ground is offered – the fear that the applicants themselves may become illegal residents. By October 23 this year, 433 such applications (by 186 female and 247 male patients) have already been denied. In its responses, the Israeli military conditions allowing the patients to leave for medical treatment on the return of their relatives to Gaza.
The petition details seven cases of patients recently affected by that Israeli policy. Asma’ Al-Majdalawi, a 15-year-old with venous thrombosis, was referred to examinations in the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov). Magdalawi has two brothers residing in the West Bank, and therefore her application was refused. She was told that this refusal would continue so long as her brothers do not return to Gaza.
Sixty-one-year-old Abdel-Hakim Al-Akluk, father of 11, suffers from eye problems – retinal detachment and low vision rate in both eyes (30 and 10 percent). One of his nephews has been living in the West Bank for the past few years, and therefore all his applications have been refused. Notably, all the rest of his family members live in Gaza.
Physicians for Human Rights and Al Mezan commented: “Making the permit contingent on the return of another – as close to the patient as he or she may be – represents illegitimate pressure and an illegal and immoral tactic. This conditioning places the lives of patients in danger by denying them access to health services that are unavailable in the Gaza Strip, thereby violating their basic rights [recognized by Israeli and international law], such as the right to health and the right to live in dignity”.