Ref: 151/2007

Date: 29 October  2007

Time: 13:00 GMT

 

 

Israeli Occupation Authorities’ Determination to Deny Access to Medical Care for Gazan Patients Causes another Death

PCHR reiterates its strong condemnation for the unjustified complicated procedures adopted by Israeli occupation authorities at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, which might have led to the death of a patient from the Gaza Strip, who was suffering from cancer, although they had already agreed to allow him to receive medical treatment at an Israeli hospital. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, World Health Organization and the ICRC to exert pressure on Israeli occupation authorities to allow access of patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing.

 

According to sources of the Palestinian Ministry of Health and investigations conducted by PCHR, on Monday, 29 October 2007, Mahmoud Kamal Kamel Abu Taha, 21, from al-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, died at Tal Hashomer Hospital inside Israel, less than 24 hours after his transfer to the hospital to receive medical treatment for cancer in the intestines. His family had been trying to obtain permission to allow his transfer to an Israeli hospital as he was in a serious condition receiving medical treatment at Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis. According to medical sources, his health condition gravely deteriorated and he lost more than one third of his weight while at the hospital. The victim’s brother, 35-year-old Hani, stated:

 

“My father, Kamal Kamel Abu Taha, 52, accompanied my brother on 18 October 2007 to Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing after having obtained permission through the liaison office at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, but Israeli occupation authorities prevented their passage and forced my brother to travel back to the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Yunis. They even arrested my father who has so far remained in custody.”

 

The patient was admitted into an Israeli hospital last night following coordination through the Ministry of Health. According to the victim’s brother, Hani, the family abstained from sending anyone to accompany his brother out of concern that Israeli occupation authorities might arrest him.

 

On Tuesday, 23 October 2007, another patient, Nemer Mohammed Salim Shuhaiber, 77, from al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City, died as Israeli occupation authorities obstructed for two days his passage through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing to receive medical treatment at an Israeli hospital, although he had obtained a permit. Shuhaiber suffered from an acute heart attack.

 

Israeli occupation authorities have continued to close Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, banning free and safe passage of the Palestinian civilian population, including patients. The obstruction of the passage of patients through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing has caused 3 deaths, including a woman, in less than two weeks.

 

In a few examples, Israeli occupation authorities have allowed patients to pass through Erez crossing, but under unjustifiable complicated security procedures endangering the lives of such patients, especially as the majorities of cases transferred to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel are critical or serious. Such patients need advanced medical treatment, which is not available in the Gaza Strip. The closure of Rafah International Crossing Point has also precluded the transfer of patients to Egyptian Hospitals. Such restrictions imposed on the passage of patients are part of measures of collective punishment adopted by Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian civilian population, in violation of international law.

 

PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, World Health Organization and the ICRC to exert pressure on Israeli occupation authorities to allow access of patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel, and the entry of medicines and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip.