Al Mezan strongly condemns the discriminatory movement restrictions and the arbitrary permit system imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip, which obstruct their access to hospitals outside Gaza. The most recent case of delay lead to the death of the six-year-old child Farouq Mohammed Abu Naja, who died after he was denied access to medical care at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
According to Al Mezan, Farouq’s legal representative, the child suffered from developmental regression. Despite having obtained a special medical referral and secured appointments at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities denied him the requisite exit permit to travel there. Both patient exit permit requests submitted to Israeli authorities on 12 January 2022 and 10 August 2022 remained under review. This delay led to a serious deterioration of Abu Naja health condition and eventually to his death on Wednesday, 24 August 2022.
Israel’s draconian, stifling closure of Gaza serves to deny inhabitants their fundamental right to health, and other inalienable rights, as part of an entrenched system of oppression, domination, and discrimination against the Palestinian people. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that since the beginning of 2022, four patients—including three children—have died following Israel’s denial of requests for exit permits and delay.
Al Mezan deeply regrets Farouq’s death. This case is yet another example of Israel’s continuing violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and its obligations as an occupying power, notably to respect and ensure freedom of movement in occupied territory and to guarantee the right to health of the occupied population. These obligations bear greater weight when involving children and, as provided in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israel has an obligation to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. Delaying access to necessary medical care for a toddler for more than five months is unwarranted and grave.
Al Mezan emphasizes that Israel is fully responsible for Farouq’s death as the occupying power and relevant duty bearer in these circumstances. The State’s persistent breaches of its international law obligations require the intervention of the international community and accountability of perpetrators. The continued impunity granted to Israel and the absence of accountability encourage the recurrence of crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.
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.