Dr. Ghassan Bannoura, a doctor at Al Hussein Hospital (The Governmental Hospital) in Beit Jala, spoke recently of a patient named Mustafa Ahmaro, two and a half, from
But Mustafa will not be able to undergo that transplant soon. It is not performed at hospitals in the territories, and no backer has been found to pay for the $40,000 transplant in or overseas.
There are 27 other Palestinian children not as fortunate, according to the records of Akhram Samhan, who is in charge of outpatient care at the Palestinian Health Ministry. They are in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant, and there is no one to pay the hospitals in .
Until a few weeks ago, the Palestinian Health Ministry covered the costs of bone marrow, liver and kidney transplants for children. Health Minister Basim Naim explained that the ministry’s coffers are empty because of the economic siege in place since Hamas came to power.
The PA, whose struggle is to decide on many pressing priorities amid the loss of its revenue imposed by the Western Powers and , does not have the funds to transfer money directly to Israeli hospitals. The Israeli government, in some cases, takes the funds from the taxes that it collects on the PA’s behalf, but refuses to give to them, and transfers them to those hospitals.
Mustafa’s father, Mohammed, has been put into a desperate situation. "We can’t pay the amount required. We appealed through various channels to PA Chairman Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other senior officials. None got back to us with an affirmative answer. I asked for an entry permit to so I could go with him to the hospital, but the Army liaison office informed me that I am prevented from entering for security reasons. They agreed to allow Mustafa’s mother into , but among us, a woman does not go to another town by herself."
Jumana Alfahouri, 2, a leukemia patient from
Adults are no better off. Dozens of adult patients are also waiting for coverage pledges from the Palestinian Health Ministry in order to undergo transplants and even operations to remove growths that can only be performed at Israeli or overseas hospitals. The pledges are not forthcoming.
Several of these patients talked at the office of Azmi al-Shiyukhi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees, among them Nadia Rahur, 37, married with five children, who has a cancerous growth in her head and cannot go to Israel for an operation.
Maher Shihada, 56, has leukemia and needs special treatment only available abroad. Shiyukhi explains that "many others might simply die. Beside the ones we’re fighting for, there are those who have been given up."
Shiyukhi is critical of both the Israeli and the Palestinian governments. "Your decision to besiege Hamas hurts the simple folk first of all. But our government must also understand that they may want jihad and ‘resistance,’ but treating sick people – that’s the real jihad. Our government must take responsibility and take care of its citizens."