Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the continued closure and blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, now reaching ten years in its most stringent form. Israel’s control over Palestinian movement to and from the Strip, and deliberate delays in ensuring a free access to hospitals for Palestinian patients deprive many from their basic human rights. Such practices and policies also clearly violate International Humanitarian Law – violations to which the international community must respond immediately. In a recent incident, a patient died after being denied access to a hospital outside of Gaza.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, the victim, Tal’at Mahmoud Sulaiman Al Shawi, 52, resident of Rafah, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor. Due to the delay in receiving the urgently needed medical treatment, the cancer metastised to his spine, causing paralysis of the lower half of his body.
According to the affidavit of Tal’at’s son, Mohammed Al Shawi, 24, his father had two courses of medical treatment at the Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem in the past year; however, since August 2016, Israeli authorities have been rejecting his requests to exit Gaza for the hospital. Al Shawi pointed out that his father frequently obtained hospital appointments, but that no reponses were given to his travel permit requests. As a result, his health condition deteriorated, and doctors in the Gaza European Hospital pronounced him dead on Sunday, 28 May 2017 at 3:30 pm.
Mohammed noted that his father was in constant contact with doctors at the Augusta Victoria Hospital, and was regularly sending results of his medical check-ups and tests to them.
Al Mezan deeply regrets the enduring harm inflicted on Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip, and deplores Israeli practices that cause further deterioration of patients’ health conditions. Al Mezan asserts that such practices amount to grave and systematic violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. In recent months, Al Mezan monitored a stark increase of Israeli violations, as half of the patients who submitted requests for travel permits have been denied access to hospitals. Al Mezan strongly protests against the continued failure of the international community to adequately address the violations against the Palestinian population caused by the protracted closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Al Mezan therefore calls on the international community to take all necessary measures to stop Israel’s violations, including taking immediate steps that would lead to an end of the closure and blockade, which continues to exacerbate humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.