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Tougher for Patients from Gaza to enter Israel

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Press Release

Tougher for Patients from Gaza to enter Israel

4 July 2005 (15:30 Israel Time)

On 20 June 2005, a Palestinian woman with a travel permit given for medical reasons tried to pass through Erez Crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel with an explosive device in her possession and the intention to explode it in an Israeli hospital. Obviously Israel has the responsibility to protect its citizens and defend itself from such a threat. However, as was mentioned in the press release from that day, it cannot use collective punishment against ill Palestinians.

What follows is a description of three cases which portray the toughening of the restrictions for women wishing to enter Israel for medical purposes:

1) A.J., a 7-year old child from Gaza, suffers from a brain tumor. He has been treated for the past two years in Tel Hashomer Hospital. Recently Tel Hashomer decided to refer him for examinations at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. The test was specifically ordered for the child and requires hospitalization for two days- tomorrow and the following day. According to the Health Coordinator for the Palestinian Population at Rambam: “If the test is not conducted by 9:00 am the material will dissolve and will not be usable”, meaning the test will not be conducted. The child’s doctor at Tel Hashomer- the referring physician- established that due to the failure of the chemotherapy treatment, the test at Rambam is the only one that can help the child. The child’s father is not allowed to enter Israel, and the child always entered with his mother. Now his mother is denied as well, and in spite of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel’s intervention she has not yet received a permit. Of course, without someone to accompany him, the child cannot enter to receive treatment. The case is urgent.

Update: [At 14:15 today Physicians for Human Rights-Israel sent out this press release to the Israeli Media. Following intervention by the media and increased pressure by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel the organization was informed by the Legal Advisor to the Israeli Army in the Gaza Strip at 15:00 that the mother will be able to enter with her child today. At the time of this release they have not yet passed through Erez- please maintain contact with PHR-Israel for the most updated information. As always, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel is concerned about those cases that are not brought to our attention and those who cannot apply pressure on the Israeli authorities.]

2) A.M., aged 8 from Gaza, has cancer and is regularly treated at Ichilov Hospital. He had an appointment to continue his chemotherapy treatment. However, his mother was denied entry into Israel, for the purpose of accompanying him, even though she had received permits in the past. Eventually, after waiting for several days and after Physicians for Human Rights-Israel intervened, the child’s father was allowed to accompany him.

3) A.A., from Gaza, is two years old and suffers from a brain tumor. He is treated at Tel Hashomer Hospital. His doctor made an appointment for him to undergo chemotherapy treatments last Thursday, but his mother was denied entry, even though she regularly accompanied him prior to this incident. Following intervention by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel the father received a permit for today- four days after the original appointment.

Over the past several years, many men in the Gaza Strip have been systematically blocked from entering Israel by the army. Now the women too are blocked. The question is: can children, such as those described above, and others in need of accompaniment, go alone for medical treatment inside Israel? The toughening of restrictions proves that the medical consideration is pushed aside. These are just some of the incidents. There are others, it can be assumed, that do not reach Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel calls upon Israel to fulfill it obligation toward the patients from the territories it occupies and to allow them to enter Israel for medical treatment to improve their health and save their lives, especially treatments unavailable in the area where the patients live- such as the incidents described above.

ENDS

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