Doctors in the occupied Gaza Strip were forced to amputate the legs of two Palestinians shot in recent protests, after Israeli authorities denied them transfer to a hospital in the West Bank.
Israeli authorities explicitly referenced the two youths’ participation in recent mass protests as the reason why the request was rejected.
According to legal rights centre Adalah, 20-year-old Yousef Karnaz and 17-year-old Mohammad Al-‘Ajouri were shot and wounded by Israeli snipers on 30 March during mass Great Return March protests.
Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, “which had no means to rescue the wounded men’s legs”, referred them to Al Istishari Hospital in Ramallah on 1 April, and a request to exit Gaza and transfer to Ramallah was submitted to the Israeli military on the same day.
Only after an intervention on 4 April by Adalah and Gaza-based rights group Al-Mezan, however, did Israeli authorities respond, rejecting the requests.
In doing so, Adalah described, “the state detailed a punitive policy designed to prevent wounded from leaving Gaza for medical care due to their alleged participation in a protest”.
“While the state admitted that the medical condition of the two wounded men justified their exit from Gaza for urgent care,” Adalah added, “the state also declared that ‘authorised bodies’ decided to deny their evacuation to the Ramallah hospital.”
The Israeli Supreme Court is today considering the case, since one of the two youths may need another amputation if he does not receive treatment in Ramallah.
According to Adalah, the court “delayed its decision on the matter and – despite the urgent nature of the situation – allowed the state attorneys three days to respond to the…petition.”
Adalah attorney Sawsan Zaher said that “the amputation of the two young men’s legs could have been prevented if the state had complied with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law.”
The state’s response indicates that Israel’s policy is to prevent those in danger of losing organs from leaving Gaza for medical treatment, in order to punish them for participating in a non-violent protest.
Adalah further noted that “the wilful act of denying urgent medical care, in these circumstances, may constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and/or torture under the UN Convention Against Torture, ratified by Israel.”