Physicians For Human Rights – Israel has released a report, on Wednesday, detailing the progressive degradation of the medical situation in the Gaza Strip as a result of the ongoing siege upon the coastal enclave. The report comes as a response to the Israeli cabinet decision of June 20, 2010, to ease the blockade.PHR – Israel’s report calls for a complete end to the siege on Gaza and the end of practices by the Israeli government that restrict full access to proper healthcare for the inhabitants of Gaza.

The report considers three major areas in which the residents of the Gaza Strip suffer from inadequate healthcare due to Israel’s ongoing siege.

(1) Preventing the development of the healthcare system in the Gaza Strip while restricting patients’ exit for medical treatment including:

the restriction of medical equipment from passing into Gaza; restriction of training for the medical professionals of Gaza and; prevention of patients access to medical treatment outside of Gaza, despite inadequate facilities, whilst simultaneously preventing medical delegations from entering the Strip.

(2) Shin Bet uses unacceptable methods towards patients in need of medical treatment including:

summoning patients for interrogation before allowing them to exit Gaza for treatment, including scheduling interrogation after the patient’s date for treatment causing them to miss much needed medical care, and summoning patients who have applied for exit visas due to medical conditions only to arrest them, or place them in detention.

(3) Israel’s policy towards patients’ access to medical treatment involves extraneous considerations including:

tending to refuse exit visas to those who are not in a life threatening situations, a criteria that violates both international and Israeli human rights law; prevention of access to highest quality medical care due to prevention of development in Gaza, and refusal of travel; prevention of travel to patients who require follow up medical care; denying patients’ requests to travel, including critical cases, through fear that the patient will use the permit to unite with their families in the West Bank and; confiscation of patients personal belongings when returning to Gaza following medical care.

The report concludes that the actions of the Israeli government towards the Gaza Strip has a profound impact of the lives of the civilian population requiring medical care, leaving thousands suffering, and it should be noted that hundreds of Gazans have died since the beginning of the siege, in June 2007, due to inadequate or incomplete medical care.

The full report can be found at the following link: