Israel Denies Seriously Wounded Gazans Permission to Leave for Treatment

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by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Israeli viciousness toward defenseless Palestinians gives new meaning to cruel and unreasonable punishment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 28,000 Gazans were wounded during Great March of Return protests since March 30, 2018.

The Strip’s health ministry reported over 250 Palestinians killed – protesting peacefully for fundamental rights denied them by the Netanyahu regime.

Israeli troops were ordered to use live fire, toxic tear gas, and other harshness against demonstrators threatening no one. The horrific toll will increase exponentially as long as protests continue – including when held in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Throughout the Occupied Territories, Palestinian communities are virtual battlegrounds, attacked by Israeli soldiers repeatedly.

It’s part of their training, along with showing muscular superiority over people they’re taught to hate, brutalizing them because who’ll intervene to stop them.

Who’ll protect an entire population of unwanted people, victims of Ziofascist extremism. It’s why incidents like the killing of two soldiers and wounding others happened last weekend.

If one or more Palestinians were responsible, it’s payback for decades of occupation harshness. It’s outrage and frustration over intolerable conditions, the world community doing nothing to protect the lives, rights and welfare of millions of persecuted Palestinians.

B’Tselem commented on Israel’s free-fire policy against them, notably during Great March of Return protests in Gaza. Virtually no one killed or injured threatened soldiers or Jewish civilians.

Israeli claims otherwise were and remain bald-faced Big Lies. Illegal blockade of the Strip since mid-2007 devastated Gaza’s health system, its access to drugs, medical equipment, and spare parts greatly restricted.

Doctors are prohibited from leaving Gaza for training on new procedures. Frequent power cuts damage equipment. They hamper operations overall. 

Hospitals are unable to provide patients with vital services, reducing them to minimal levels, postponing non-emergency surgeries, releasing patients earlier than medically advisable.

Many seriously ill or injured Gazans need treatment outside the Strip for what its barebones health system can’t provide. B’Tselem explained the following:

When Great March of Return protests began last March 30,  “Israel declared that, as a rule, it would not allow persons injured while participating in them to leave Gaza for medical treatment in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israel or Jordan,” adding:

Last April, the Adalah and Al-Mezan human rights group “petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice on behalf of two wounded men, since amputation would be likely with the care available in Gaza.”

Netanyahu regime lawyers told the court their request was denied, “given the policy of the Minister of Defense on the issue, whereby, as a rule, entry into Israel shall not be granted to persons injured while taking part in the violent public disturbances organized by Hamas (sic), where the concrete medical circumstances were not deemed to warrant considering a departure from said rule, as the petitioners are not in a life-threatening condition.” 

Gazas were warned “against participating in the demonstrations,” their legitimate right under international law. According to the Netanyahu regime, exercising it justifies denying them access to adequate medical treatment when urgently needed.

The dire condition of both men required doctors to amputate one of their legs. A week after the petition was filed, the High Court belatedly granted one of the wounded Gazans permission to receive treatment in Ramallah.

Doctors saved his other leg. To their disgrace, High Court justices called their ruling exceptional, showing contempt for Palestinians, indifference to their suffering at the hands of a ruthless occupier.

They declined to rule on Israel’s illegal blockade, imposed for political reasons, unrelated to security.

According to WHO figures, from last March through January 2019, 493 Gazans requested permission to receive medical treatment in West Bank or East Jerusalem hospitals.

Only 85 were approved, 408 rejected. Approvals when given nearly always follow lengthy bureaucratic delays, showing contempt for Palestinian suffering.

Requests made don’t reflect numbers of injured Palestinians needing treatment unavailable in the Strip – because it’s well known that permission most often is denied or ignored.

B’Tselem stressed the following, saying:

Israel “instituted an open-fire policy that allows live gunfire at protestors posing no danger, resulting in thousands of injuries – a policy it still refuses to change, a year in, although the horrific outcome has been commonly known for some time.”

Israel’s illegal blockade caused Gaza’s healthcare system to collapse when it comes to treating serious illnesses and injuries.

It compounded its high crimes by denying gratuitously wounded Palestinians their right of free movement, notably on their own territory, affirmed under international law.

B’Tselem collected testimonies from seriously wounded Gazans, explaining their ordeal. Hassan al-‘Issawi, aged-42, husband and father of four said the following:

“Since the protests began east of Khan Yunis, I volunteered with the Red Crescent to give first aid. 

On Friday, 19 October 2018, I went as usual to the demonstration east of Khan Yunis with other volunteers. I was wearing a first-aid volunteer uniform and a Health Ministry name tag.

During the demonstration, I was hit by a live bullet in the right leg, even though I was far from the fence. I was taken to the European Hospital and stayed there three days.” 

The bone in my leg was shattered and the main nerve and tendon torn. They put a platinum implant in the leg. Then I was transferred to Nasser Hospital, where I stayed for 25 days. 

From there, I was transferred to other hospitals – Dar a-Salam and the state hospital in Khan Yunis – where I had three operations.

While I was still in hospital, the doctors referred me for further treatment to al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem. I have to undergo another complicated procedure that can’t be performed in Gaza. 

I filled out the Palestinian Health Ministry’s form and scheduled an appointment at al-Mkassed for 12 November 2018. The day before, I got a text message saying my request was still under review. 

I couldn’t make the appointment and scheduled another one for 10 December 2018. Then my request was rejected. The third time, I set an appointment for 7 January 2019 and was rejected again. I have another appointment scheduled for 5 March and have filed a fourth request. I am now waiting for a reply, again.

Meanwhile, I’ve also filed a request for treatment in Egypt, in case I can’t get to East Jerusalem, because my leg is in bad shape. 

There are complications from infections in the bone. It’s a dangerous condition and if I don’t get proper treatment, they may have to amputate. 

In the meantime, I’m having physiotherapy sessions with Doctors Without Borders. I go to their clinic every two days. They also provide transport to and from the clinic, because I can’t drive my car. I use crutches and only leave home to go for treatment.

Since the injury, my life has been on hold. I used to do weightlifting at a sports club. We live on the fourth floor, with no elevator, so I had to move out of the house, leaving my wife and kids, and go to my mother, who lives on the first floor. 

It’s easier to go to hospital and treatments from there. Sometimes I spend one day a week at home, with my wife and kids. I’m stressed all the time and it’s had a bad effect on my relationships with my family. 

Since the injury, I also haven’t worked. I used to run projects for NGOs, but my career is over. I spend most of my time on social media and undergoing treatments.”

‘Issawi’s ordeal reflects the suffering of countless thousands of other Gazans – victims of Israeli ruthlessness the world community forgot.

B’Tselem published other testimonies. Suffocating under endless blockade, virtually every Gazan family has horror stories to tell – the world community turning a blind eye and deaf ear to their suffering.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.