Israeli authorities have refused entry to the occupied Gaza Strip to two members of a US medical delegation because they are Jewish, reported Haaretz.
Initially, the refusal was extended to the entire group, from the Washington branch of Physicians for Social Responsibility, citing the organisation’s alleged involvement with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
After Israeli human rights NGO Gisha petitioned the Supreme Court, Haaretz reported, “the state backtracked on those two reasons and said it would permit eight of the delegation’s 10 members to enter the Strip as planned, on October 21”.
However, in regard to two of the members — “a neurosurgeon and a social worker with considerable experience treating people with trauma disorders” — the state said they required “additional security checks”. The state’s final response is reportedly due tomorrow.
The delegation is attempting to enter the blockaded enclave in order to carry out “consultations with colleagues on various medical issues”, as well as to provide “medical treatment and instruction in the clinics of the host organisation, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme”.
Explaining the entry refusal last month, the Israeli army noted: “Many of the applicants are Jews, for whom the risk of going to the Gaza Strip is routinely more significant”.
However, as Haaretz reported, D’vorah Kost, one of the two delegation members who was refused entry, has visited the Gaza Strip twice: in an affidavit, “she wrote that the people she met in Gaza are aware that she is Jewish and that her Judaism had never posed a problem”.
The physician who was refused entry, Dr. Donald Mellman, has visited the Gaza Strip seven times.
Israeli authorities also claimed that the physicians’ organisation is “involved in activities that encourage boycotting Israel, in cooperation with the BDS movement”.