Creating new perspectives since 2009

Number of Palestinian minors Israel prevents from accessing treatment outside Gaza doubles

July 27, 2022 at 12:36 pm

Newborn babies at the intensive care unit are seen at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on 27 June, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

New data published by Physicians for Human Rights – Israel showed that the number of Palestinian minors who Israel refused to allow to leave the besieged Gaza Strip to access treatment has doubled.

According to data the group accessed as a result of a Freedom of Information request, in 2020, 17 per cent of minors’ requests to leave the Gaza Strip for the purpose of receiving medical care not available in the Gaza Strip were rejected or refused (347 out of 2,070 requests).

In 2021, this nearly doubled to 32 per cent, meaning the Israeli occupation authorities rejected 812 of the 2,578 applications submitted on behalf of minors that year.

Physicians for Human Rights, which provides assistance to patients in the Gaza Strip to obtain exit permits for the purpose of receiving health care, attribute the reasons for the higher rate, to the tightening of Israeli policies related to the issuance of exit permits for Gazan patients to the global coronavirus pandemic and the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

According to the organisation, the main reason for the high rates of rejections is Israel’s refusal to allow the minors’ parents to accompany them while they are undergoing medical care and claims that there are problems with the medical documents attached to the applications.

OPINION: If the detention of an Israeli soldier is a war crime, what about the thousands of Palestinian civilians?

In such cases, sick minors who are not allowed to leave the Gaza Strip to receive health care at the time specified by the hospitals are required to replace their companions, often with people who are not relatives and resubmit their application.

“Separation from the main caregiver during hospitalization impedes the parent from providing emotional support during such difficult times when it is critical to the child’s inherent sense of security and subsequent physical, emotional, social, and cognitive maturation, ” expert on medical psychology, Dr Oren Lahak,said.

For her part, Director of the Occupied Territories Department at Physicians for Human Rights, Ghada Majadleh, said, “The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip continues, a closure that has plagued the lives of millions, and cost lives and bodies, for 15 years.”

Majadleh added that “Israel is a partner in a serious and ongoing crime and harming patients, especially minors, and this is only one of the very dangerous manifestations of this siege.”

“Israel must allow all children who are referred for medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip to access treatment on time, and to ensure that at least one of the parents accompanies the minor,” she noted.