Israeli Authorities Maintain Beit Hanoun Crossing Closed and Ban Entry of Humanitarian Cases Including Patients, their Companions and Bodies of Patienta who Died in Hospitals Abroad
Date: 24 May 2021
Time: 11:30 GMT
This morning, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding the return of dead bodies of four patients from the Gaza Strip, who were referred for treatment in the hospitals in Israel and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, along with their companions. The petition was submitted as Israeli authorities at Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing refused to respond to the Coordination and Liaison Department in the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH)’s requests regarding the return of the deceased and their companions to the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, PCHR submitted an urgent petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to allow the travel of Dayana Muhi al-Deen Abu al-‘Aouf (al-Yazji), 46, who was critically injured after an airstrike destroyed Abu al-‘Aouf building, on 16 May 2021, during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. It should be noted that Dayana was rescued from under the rubble, and she sustained fractures in seventh cervical vertebra, C7, known as the vertebra prominens, in her left arm and in the waist. Also, she sustained bruises in her left lung. Dayana is now on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). On 15 May 2021, Dayana obtained a medical referral to the Istishari Arab Hospital in the West Bank, and since that date, Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing refused to grant her permission to travel. Now, Dayana is in a critical health condition and there is an imminent danger to her life. It is worth mentioning that Dayana’s daughters Shimaa (21) and Rawan (19) were killed while Misaa (22) and Maram (9) were injured in the airstrikes that targeted their residential building.
On 10 May 2021, the Israeli occupation authorities closed Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing and only opened it for humanitarian cases, including patients and their companions. The next day, 11 May 2021, when the Israeli aggression started on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli authorities completely closed the crossing, blocking travel of all the categories that were limitedly allowed to travel via Erez crossing, including patients referred for treatment abroad. Since the closure of the crossing, the Israeli authorities have refused to respond to dozens of requests applied by the Health Ministry’s Coordination and Liaison Department on behalf of patients with serious diseases who were referred for treatment at hospitals in Israel and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem.
The situation of the healthcare system in Gaza has seriously deteriorated due to the Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip for the last 14 years and exacerbated by the repercussions of the Palestinian internal division. Moreover, the healthcare facilities have a perpetual shortage of essential drugs and medical devices and insufficient number of specialized health professionals; rendering the hospitals unable to treat many serious diseases and so raising the number of patients referred for treatment abroad for the last few years. The Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has also aggravated the healthcare situation and increased the burden on the medical crews and the entire healthcare system as hospitals and ICUs are overcrowded with hundreds of thousands of persons injured by the Israeli bombarding. The death toll of the Israeli aggression has risen to 247, including 66 children and 39 women while the number of injuries has risen to 1417, including 277 children and 412 women.
PCHR believes that the ongoing closure of Beit Hanoun “Erez” crossing constituts a form of collective punishment and a retaliatory act committed by the IOF against Palestinian civilians. Thus, PCHR calls on the international community to:
- Intervene immediately and pressurize the occupation authorities to allow the travel of patients and their companions as well as the bodies of persons who have died while traveling for treatment abroad to return to their homes in the Gaza Strip
- Put pressure on the Israeli occupation authorities to re-open the Beit Hanoun Crossing and allow the travel of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, particularly patients with serious diseases whose treatment is unavailable at the Gaza Hospitals.
- Force the Israeli authorities to abandon the use of its collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population, including the closure of crossings that leads to serious deterioration in civilians’ enjoyment of their economic and social rights.