An Urgent Petition: Israel is Preventing Gaza Patients from Receiving Life-Saving Treatment-Lives are At Stake

Israel is Preventing Gaza Patients from Receiving Life-Saving Treatment – Lives are At Stake

· At least 26 patients have been diagnosed by Physicians for Human Rights as facing life-threatening danger if not immediately admitted into Israel for treatment

· The Israeli Military’s Response: “The Crossing [Between Gaza and Israel] is Closed”

· Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Gisha filed an urgent court petition demanding that patients requiring life-saving treatment be admitted into Israel

· Court hearing set for tomorrow at 10:30 am.

Tue., June 19, 2007 –  Tonight, Israeli human rights groups Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel submitted an urgent petition to Israel’s Supreme Court demanding that Israel permit patients from Gaza into Israel for life-saving treatment. The court set a hearing for tomorrow morning at 10:30.

In his decision, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote that “anything that the respondents can do prior to the hearing regarding the most urgent cases … who, according to the petitioners, need live-saving treatment – should be done already tonight.”

Doctors working with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have been triaging cases of Gaza patients in need of medical treatment. Among dozens of patients requiring treatment, thus far 26 have been identified as requiring urgent, life-saving treatment not available in Gaza. Additional cases are currently being evaluated.

Included among the patients seeking medical care is a 3.5 year old child with renal cancer that has spread to her lungs. The child needs intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Her life is in danger if she does not receive the treatment urgently, which is not available in Gaza. Other patients suffer from cancer, gun-shot wounds, and blood cell damage.

In response to an urgent appeal submitted by Gisha and Physicians for Human Rights to allow patients to enter Israel from Gaza via Erez Crossing, Israel’s military said that “the crossing is closed, but there is willingness and readiness from Gaza’s District Coordination Office to take care of exceptional cases of passage.” However, that answer does not reflect the reality. Requests to let patients through were met with the response that, “the crossing is closed.” The court petition, written by attorneys Noam Peleg and Sari Bashi of Gisha, asks that Israel allow the entry of patients needing medical treatment not available in Gaza. Israel has closed Gaza’s borders since Thursday, June 14, 2007, preventing patients from reaching hospitals in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt.

According to Hadas Ziev, Director of Physicians for Human Rights: “Patients in Gaza are pleading for their lives, while Israel is closing the gates to receive medical treatment. Israel is designating Gaza residents as “Hamas enemies” – and turning its back on their urgent needs”.