Gaza sick dying for lack of urgent medical access

Ill Palestinians who are being prevented from crossing into Israel for urgent medical treatment are a result of complicated Israeli border procedures, Caritas Jerusalem says.

In an interview with Caritas Jerusalem, Dr Mu'awiah Hassanen, Director General of the Emergency Sector of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza gave the example of 15-year-old Ehsan Majed Abu Mu'amar, who died after being refused entry at the border into Israel even though he had previously obtained permission and no security concerns were present.

Suffering from a serious brain related illness, the boy was attempting to reach Ichlov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Caritas Jerusalem says.

There had been previous coordination with the authorities to allow him to pass the Erez crossing and an Israeli ambulance was waiting for him on the other side. But he was turned back and not allowed to enter.

Dr Hassanen also pointed to the recent case of a 6-month-old girl, Dua'a Othman Al Zibde, who was in intensive care in Gaza and she waited at the checkpoint for more than three hours before being refused entry even though she also had previous coordination with the authorities to enter Israel for medical treatment.

Erez, also known as Beit Hanoun, is one of a few crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel. It is located in Gaza's northern most point.

Palestinian workers from Gaza previously passed through Erez when going to work inside Israel, but it has been over one year since almost all workers from Gaza have been able to enter Israel for jobs.

For the most part, now only journalists, UN workers and other internationals pass through it. It is also used for urgent humanitarian medical cases seeking treatment inside Israel.

"Several years ago about 120 Palestinian patients each day were passing through the Beit Hanoun crossing [Erez] into Israel to get medical treatment, but now only ten to fifteen patients pass each day", Dr Hassanen told Caritas.

"Sadly, this includes many children, who have heart and kidney diseases and cancers, who are prevented from entering Israel."

Since then, Palestinian ambulances have been banned from entering Israel. Complex new procedures to obtain medical care inside Israel were imposed leading to significant delays at the Erez crossing until they are permitted to pass.

"These practices are inhumane, immoral, and impious, violating all international and bilateral agreements," said Dr Hassanen.

"Sadly, Israeli inspection companies waste a lot the time and do not help the patients. Many patients have died waiting at the Erez crossing due to blood loss."

"Many patients, who are sent to Israel for treatment, never make it to their destination and return dead to Gaza," Dr Hassanen concluded.

Caritas reports on Gaza's sick denied access to urgent medical care (Independent Catholic News, 19/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Jerusalem

Gaza strip a "large prison": Irish bishops (CathNews, 28/2/07)
Gaza getting worse, say residents (CathNews, 7/12/06)
New Gaza settlement tenders concern Caritas Jerusalem (CathNews, 8/9/06)
Biblical lamentations as Gaza descends into disaster (CathNews, 12/7/06)

20 Mar 2007

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