Al Mezan strongly condemns the discriminatory movement restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip. Israel’s arbitrary and draconian permit system delays or denies patients access to hospitals outside Gaza in around 30 percent of urgent cases. The most recent case of delay lead to the death of Jihad al-Qedra, a 55-years-old cancer patient from Gaza, who died after he was denied access to medical care at a hospital outside Gaza by Israeli authorities at the Erez Crossing.
According to Al Mezan, al-Qedra’s legal representative, he suffered from Nasopharyngeal cancer for years. Despite having obtained a medical referral from the Palestinian Ministry of Health and secured appointments at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and Patients Friends Society Al-Rahma Hospital in Nablus, Israeli authorities denied him the requisite exit permit to travel for nine different appointments, the last of which scheduled for 22 June 2022 in Nablus. This delay led to a serious deterioration of al-Qedra’s health condition and eventually to his death on Monday 4 July 2022.
Since the beginning of 2022, Al Mezan intervened as the legal representative for more than 440 patients in Gaza and succeeded to facilitate the access of 154 patients to hospitals outside the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan's decades of experience in representing patients with legal interventions indicates that Israel's denials or delays of permits are not based on any valid reasons, but rather are part of the collective punishment and apartheid regime to which it subjects more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Notably, al-Qedra is the third patient to die since the beginning of 2022 due to Israeli delay or denial of medical permits.
Al Mezan deeply regrets the death of the cancer patient Jihad al-Qedra and holds Israel fully responsible for his death. As the occupying power, Israel must adhere to the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 as well as international human rights law, which protect the rights to life, freedom of movement, and to physical and mental health.
Al Mezan calls on the international community—in particular, the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions—to uphold their moral and legal obligations vis-à-vis the protected Palestinian people and to ensure Israel complies with its obligations under international law, ends the closure and blockade on the Gaza Strip, and stops its ongoing restrictions of Palestinian patients’ access to medical care outside the Gaza Strip. Lastly, Al Mezan reiterates that the continued impunity provided to the Israeli forces encourages the repetition of crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.