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Negrev: No Electricity For Cancer Patient, 3 years

A three year old cancer patient will remain without electricity

Enass al Atrash, a resident of an unrecognized Arab-Bedouin village in the Negev, became ill with cancer in January of this year, before her third birthday. At the same time that she went through arduous treatments, which included operations, radiation and chemotherapy, which affected her immune system’s ability to fight diseases like the flu, her parents had to struggle against the state of Israel just to receive electricity. Yousef and Nadia al-Atrash, Enass’s parents, do not have electricity in their home, like all the homes in the unrecognized Negev villages, but Enass must be in an air conditioned environment so that she can fight her disease.

Due to the state’s persistent refusal to connect the home to electricity, the family turned to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel), who, together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), petitioned the Israeli High Court, demanding that the home be connected to electricity. Adv. Sonia Boulos from ACRI filed the petition.

During the hearings the state did not recognize the child’s right to have her home connected to power, and felt it suffice to propose humanitarian solutions alternatively, suggested that the family simply move to another place, far away from their relatives who assist in taking care of the sick girl and her siblings, while the parents must be by her side in the hospital.

The judges, President Aharon Barak, Justice Edmond Levi and Asher Gronis, accepted the state’s proposal that it provide NIS 16,000 (about $3,450) for purchasing fuel for a generator which belongs to neighbors and also services the residents of the home, and therefore rejected the petition- not before they themselves stated that this solution is far from adequate. However, the did not obligate the state to connect the home to electricity, claiming that the parents chose to live in an unrecognized village “knowing that they would therefore not be able to connect to basic infrastructures”. However, they chose to ignore the claims of the petitioners, that the child’s right to life overpowers the planning and bureaucratic considerations, and instead chose to declare their “hope and prayer that [Enass] will recover and again be fit”.

Due to this decision, Enass will be forced to continue to face her illness and slow recover process on her own, without a proper air conditioning system (needed to maintain a hygienic environment), which the state could have provided in order to aid her immune system in handling the dangers she must confront. Of course, given that we are entering the winter months, this decision also means that the home will not be properly heated.

The petitioners emphasize that the state, in refusing the connect the girl’s home to electricity violated its commitment to protect children and to place the welfare of the child above bureaucratic, land and ideological considerations, and regret that the High Court lent its hand to this violation.

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