The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli occupation authorities’ ongoing ban of the Gaza Strip’s patients from traveling for treatment at the Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and Israeli hospitals.

In a serious development, Jihad Mousa Humaidan Al-Qedra (55), a patient with nasopharyngeal cancer, died. Al-Qedra had obtained a medical referral for treatment at Al-Mutala’ (Augusta Victoria) Hospital in occupied Jerusalem, where it was decided that he needs a nuclear scan at Patients Friends Hospital in Nablus.

The Health Ministry’s Coordination and Liaison Department applied for a travel permit on 29 May and 22 June 2022; however, the Israeli authorities replied that his request is still under “security check”.

According to PCHR’s investigations, Al-Qedra suffered nasopharyngeal cancer since March 2020 and received chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Al-Mutla’ Hospital in Jerusalem.

Last April, the doctors decided that he needs a nuclear scan at the Patient’s Friends Hospital in Nablus on April 26, 2022.

He filed requests to the Civil Affairs Ministry’s Coordination and Liaison Department to obtain a permit to travel via Erez crossing to the hospital for treatment, but a day before the appointment, the Israeli occupation replied that his request is still under security check.

Al-Qedra applied again after obtaining appointments from the hospital on 29/05/2022 and 22/06/2022, but the Israeli authorities responded that the request is still under security check. This delay deteriorated his health condition, and he was taken to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where he was pronounced dead on 04/07/2022.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, since the beginning of this year, the Israeli authorities obstructed the travel of 2900 patients from the Gaza Strip for treatment abroad since there is no treatment for them at the Gaza Strip hospitals; most of them are cancer, blood, and heart patients.

IOF invokes various reasons and excuses to prevent Gaza patients from traveling for treatment; including requests under security check, summoning patients for a security interview, requests denied for having a relative illegally residing in the West Bank or Israel, and the treatment available in Gaza hospitals. Such restrictions have caused the death of 3 patients since the beginning of this year.

These restrictions accompanied the deterioration of the health system in the Gaza Strip triggered by the Israeli-imposed closure for 15 years, as the Gaza Strip hospitals suffer from an acute shortage of essential drugs and medical devices and an insufficient number of specialized health professionals; rendering the hospitals unable to treat many serious diseases and so raising the number of patients referred for treatment abroad for the last few years.

 In light of the above, PCHR calls on the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, and the UN bodies and international organizations, to pressure the occupation to assume their legal responsibilities toward the residents of the Gaza Strip, including patients, and to ensure an appropriate and safe mechanism is provided for their travel.

PCHR calls on the international community to pressure Israel to lift the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip in line with Security Council Resolution No. 1860, and to import the medical supplies used in radiotherapy, chemical drugs and periodic examinations for cancer patients that are not available in Gaza hospitals.