Medical treatment in jeopardy for thousands

A hospital in Gaza, prior to Operation Protective Edge. Photo: Eman Mohammed

A hospital in Gaza, prior to Operation Protective Edge. Photo: Eman Mohammed

Israel has toughened restrictions on exiting Gaza and canceled a quota for permits for medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank given to thousands of patients with non-urgent medical conditions.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the body that regulates Israel’s civilian policy towards the Gaza Strip and the West Bank recently sent Gisha an updated version of the “closure permissions status” document. This document details the procedures governing movement of Palestinians between Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, and it is updated every few weeks. The document was not posted on COGAT’s website, which has not been updated, reportedly due to technical difficulties that began in June this year.

The document contains several glaring changes for the worse, but the most significant of these is the cancellation of the quota for permits to enter Israel for non-urgent medical treatment. In June, the quota was 120 patients per day. The updated document also implies that Palestinians who were injured during Operation Protective Edge and whose condition is not urgent would no longer be able to enter Israel.

These permits meet a patently humanitarian need. They provide a solution for medical patients who need treatment that is not available in the Gaza Strip, and to people who may have been injured in the course of Israel’s bombardments of the Strip. It is also entirely unclear how this decision, which appears to have already been implemented on the ground, conforms with the military’s rhetoric about the need for Gaza’s reconstruction and with other measures it is purportedly undertaking to ease the closure.

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