The number of Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip denied exit permits by Israeli authorities on the basis of family ties to Hamas "has soared this year", reported AFP.
According to data obtained by four human rights NGOs – Gisha, Adalah, Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel – in the first quarter of 2018 alone, 833 exit permit applications by residents of Gaza were denied by Israel on such grounds.
For comparison, Israeli authorities refused 21 applications on these grounds in all of 2017.
As AFP reported, "those declined for having a close relative with alleged ties to Hamas have included people seeking medical care for cancer."
The NGOs slammed the Israeli government for "using patients in need of medical treatment, including cancer patients, as pawns for political gain."
"When reviewing permit applications submitted by patients from Gaza, Israel's chief consideration should be their medical needs, rather exploiting their hardships as leverage for mounting pressure on the de-facto authorities in Gaza."
Denying patients access to medical treatment on the grounds that they have family relations to Hamas members is a breach of international law, and completely immoral.
A report by Haaretz on the same matter noted "Israel is keeping its promise" to the family of Hadar Goldin, an Israeli soldier whose body is held by Hamas. "To get it returned, his family has mounted a campaign to reduce the number of humanitarian exit permits from Gaza," Haaretz added.