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Haaretz: 20 Gaza patients died waiting for Israel exit permits

A Palestinian man receives medical care at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on 16 April 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Since the start of this year, 20 Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip died due to an Israeli ban on their travel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed.

The Israeli newspaper cited rights groups’ reports noting the “unjustified” increase of the Israeli “trend” to prevent issuing exit permits for patients.

Haaretz reported the case of four-year-old Yara Bakheet who vomited frequently for an entire week and became dehydrated. After a series of tests in the European Hospital in Gaza, doctors told her mother that she suffers from a heart disease.

She was granted a medical transition report to Al-Maqasid Hospital in East Jerusalem where she should have been treated.

The family prepared the needed documents and applied for an Israeli permit to leave the Strip, they were told that Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet would need to approve the application. This it did, however only for the child and not for her mother. As a result, the family applied for her grandmother to apply and have her application approved.

Read: Gaza receives first PA medical aid shipment in 8 months

Yara travelled to Jerusalem, received the first part of her treatment then returned to Gaza. Israeli occupation forces did not allow her to leave the Strip again to continue her treatment and she later died as a result.

WHO report

According to the World Health Organisation, in June 1,920 applications were made for exit permits by patients. The international body says 951 of those applications were approved, 20 were refused and 949 (49.4 per cent) went unanswered by the date of the hospitalisation or treatment. The number, according to WHO, included 222 children and 113 elderly people.

WHO also noted that 42 per cent of the 1,858 application filed in September remained outstanding as their applicants did not receive responses.

According to Haaretz, the international medical body said that since start of 2017 until September, 43.7 per cent of 20,000 applications did not receive responses, 2.9 per cent were rejected for security reasons and 53 per cent were approved with 75 per cent travelling to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It said that 20 per cent of the applications, which did not receive responses, were for children and eight per cent for elderly persons.

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