Due to a dispute between Fatah and Hamas, applications by patients to receive medical treatment outside the Strip were not processed

July 29, 2012. After a ten-day period during which applications by Gaza patients seeking medical treatment outside the Strip were not processed, the Palestinian medical referrals committee in Gaza resumed its work processing applications. During the crisis, few patients were able to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment, a situation which put the health and lives of many at risk. Gisha, whose goal is to promote freedom of movement to and from the Gaza Strip, notes that each of the actors that exercise control over the ability to travel into and out of the Gaza Strip has a responsibility to respect the right of Gaza’s residents to do so, including for medical treatment.

The crisis began on July 17 as a result of a dispute between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah regarding the composition of the medical referrals committee. As a result, applications by Palestinians wishing to travel outside the Strip to receive medical treatment were not processed and the number of patients traveling through the Erez and Rafah crossings gradually decreased.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) called "for the exclusion of health services from the political conflict".

The dispute was resolved on July 26, following mediation efforts by the Gaza office of the World Health Organization and the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. The medical referrals committee will continue to operate in its current composition pending the establishment of a new committee, to be coordinated by the Gaza health ministry and the Ramallah health ministry.