While the world increases its efforts to spread awareness about cancer and celebrate new ways to treat it, cancer patients in Gaza have complained about the restrictions placed by Israel on their treatment. In a statement issued on Sunday, a group of patients said that they have been involved in a “humanitarian battle” with the occupation authorities to get the medicines that they need for their treatment to be effective. “This has been an ongoing struggle for ten years,” they pointed out.
The statement focused on patients with breast cancer. Statistics issued by the National Centre for Monitoring Cancer in Gaza, note that there are 1,283 breast cancer patents in the besieged territory at the moment. That accounts for around 18 per cent of all cancer patients in Gaza.
In total, 748 patients applied to the Israeli occupation authorities in 2015 for a travel permit to receive treatment in Jerusalem or West Bank hospitals. Of these, the Israelis deferred 293 applications, rejected 74 and ignored 219. Since the start of this year, 548 breast cancer patients have applied for travel permits, with 287 rejected for no reason and 125 others turned down for alleged “security” reasons.
Palestinian breast cancer patients have, in their statement, repeated their belief that they have a right to receive proper treatment like other women around the world. They stressed that the Israeli measures against them are a “flagrant violation” of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bans the punishment of individuals for crimes they did not commit personally, as well collective punishment.
Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are ill-equipped to cope with the requirements of cancer patients. Furthermore, there is a severe shortage of all kinds of medicines, not just those which are essential for treating cancer.