On Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights organized a workshop and the screening of its new short-documentary film entitled "Death Permits." Participants included Mr. Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff, the European Union (EU) representative in Palestine, Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s representative in Palestine, as well as dozens of Gaza civil society members working in the health field, as well as representatives of international and human rights organizations.
The event began with the screening of a documentary film about Gaza’s children with serious illnesses, who face significant obstacles and risks to their health and their right to life because of Israel’s restrictions placed on the Gaza Strip, which prevent them from accessing medical care outside the Gaza Strip and prevent them from being accompanied by their parents.
In his keynote address, Mr. Issam Younis, Al Mezan’s Director General, spoke of the importance of protecting patients’ right to health and access to proper medical care, particularly those who are referred to hospitals outside Gaza. Mr. Younis stressed that the delay and denial of medical care for patients further endanger their lives. He also added that the lack of accountability encourages Israeli authorities to commit further violations of international law and that it is imperative to end the policy of double standards and protect Palestinian civilians, particularly children.
Mr. Sven Kuehn Von Burgsdorff took the floor next and expressed his sorrow for the situation of Palestinian patients in need of medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. He added: “The fact that fathers and mothers cannot accompany their children and be with them in the most difficult hours of their lives is completely unacceptable, immoral and not humanitarian.” He also pledged to continue to help and support Palestinians, asserting that the right to health is a fundamental human right under international law.
Dr. Richard Peeperkorn also expressed his concern about the situation of patients in Gaza and noted that the 15 years of blockade and closure imposed by Israel on Gaza have had enormous impacts on unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity rates, as well as having a direct impact on health conditions, and highlighted the arbitrariness of the permit system implemented by Israeli authorities vis-à-vis Palestinian patients from Gaza.
At the end of the event, Al Mezan thanked everyone who attended and reiterated the need to keep working to put an end to Israeli violations and guarantee the rights of Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip. The release of the documentary film is part of Al Mezan’s activities under the EU-funded project on promoting and protecting the access of patients with medical referrals to quality health care and the right to health.