The Israeli Annexation Plan, announced last month by Israeli authorities, and put into practice this month, has apparently claimed its first victim, as a Palestinian baby scheduled for a lifesaving operation in Israel was denied a permit by Israeli authorities who run the West Bank and Gaza under martial law.
An eight-month-old infant from the Gaza Strip was the first to die under this new system of closure and annexation – but the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI) warn that he will not be the last.
Omar Yaghi, with a cardiac condition, died on Thursday after Israeli military officials denied his family the access to go to Israel for his scheduled May 24th surgery at Sheba Medical Center.
The stated reason for the denial of his travel was the cessation of coordination between the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (PCAC) – a part of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – and the Israeli military authorities which control all access to the West Bank and Gaza, and all internal roadways and travel.
Israeli authorities have long used an antiquated and nearly-impossible to navigate ‘permit’ system which requires Palestinians who need medical care to go to a military base and wait for hours or days to try to get a permit to reach the hospital. This system has cost hundreds of lives over the years, and now, with the Palestinian Authority pulling its implicit consent for this martial law, there are no permits being issued and therefore, no travel for medical care.
The problem lies not with the Palestinian Authority, however, as most media have tried to claim, but with Israel, which has an obligation under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention to provide the means for the population under its military’s occupation since 1967 to be allowed freedom of access to medical care.
According to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI), “In recent days, we have seen a spike in requests for help from Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank who need medical treatment that is not available locally. These patients, some in critical condition and who require life-saving treatment, have told us that the Palestinian agencies in charge of liaising with the Israeli authorities have stopped transferring exit permit applications that were submitted for medical reasons.
“Patients further reported that the Palestinian Ministry of Health refuses to refer them to Israeli hospitals or cover the cost of treatment in Israel. Consequently, Israeli hospitals have refused to admit back organ transplant patients who have returned to their homes for post-surgery rehabilitation.
“Among the people affected are two leukemia patients from Nablus aged 25 and 46, whose routine treatment at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem was halted over lack of coverage by the Palestinian Authority; a 37-year-old lung transplant patient who stopped receiving care at Beilinson Hospital as the Palestinian Ministry of Health refused to cover the 900 Shekel per-visit cost; an eight-month-old baby with a heart condition from the Gaza Strip who has been unable to travel for treatment at Sheba Hospital because the Palestinian Civilian Affairs Committee refuses to forward an exit permit application for him and a 24-year-old woman from the Gaza Strip who requires ongoing treatment for orthopedic issues and whose application for a permit was denied by the Palestinian coordination. ”
The Israeli human rights group concludes, “Given the fact that Israel controls the area, the crossings and the living conditions of the Palestinian population, and since Israel instituted the failed permit system, it shoulders the responsibility to find a quick solution to enable patients to travel freely to receive medical treatment. Most patients in the Gaza Strip travel for treatment in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and their health must not be affected. We are on the brink of medical chaos. Right now, hundreds are affected. Thousands will be affected soon.”
It is worth mentioning that the child had an appointment scheduled for May 24th, at Tal HaShomer Israeli Medical Center, but when no permit to leave Gaza was issued, the appointment was rescheduled for June 21st.
His condition then worsened, and he was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of the Rantisi Hospital in Gaza, and he died at dawn of June 18th.