PCHR Publishes New Report: “Pain: A Bargain”
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a new report: “Pain: A Bargain,” which addresses the restrictions imposed by the Israeli forces on patients and denying them medical treatment abroad.
The report reviews the restrictions imposed by the Israeli Authorities to deny the patients in Gaza medical treatment abroad (Israel and the West Bank including Occupied Jerusalem and neighboring countries). Most important of these restrictions were as follow: depriving patients of travel without giving any reason; depriving patients of travel for family-related reasons; arresting patients at Beit Hanoun “Erez” Crossing; blackmailing patients and bargaining with them in exchange for their collaboration with the Israeli authorities; Investigating with patients; delaying responses to patients’ permit applications; neglecting and disregarding patients’ hospital appointments; arresting patients’ companions; imposing severe restrictions on patients’ companions; and the Israeli Judiciary upholding the Israeli authorities’ practices to deprive patients of treatment.
According to the report, from 1 January 2017 to 30 September 2017, the Israeli authorities obstructed the travel of 9,101 Gaza Strip patients out of 19,526 travel requests for Gaza patients referred for treatment in the hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, i.e. (46.5%) of the total applied requests. The Israeli authorities attributed the rejection of 579 patients for security reasons (2.9%) while they did not reply to 407 requests (2%) and delayed responses to 7,179 patients for security reasons (36.6%). Further, the Israeli authorities asked 90 patients to change their companions (0.4%) and delayed the travel of 846 patients (4.3%) under various pretexts.
From 2008 to 2016, , the Israeli authorities obstructed the travel of 29,006 Gaza Strip patients out of 128,073 permit requests for patients referred for treatment in the hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, i.e. (22.6%) of the total applied requests. The Israeli authorities attributed the rejection of 4,934 patients for security reasons (3.8%) while they did not reply to 4,731 requests (3.6%) and delayed responses to 11,886 patients for security reasons (9.2%). Further, the Israeli authorities asked 1,838 patients to change their companions (1.4%) and delayed the travel of 5,617 patients (4.3%) under various pretexts.
The International humanitarian law “The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and 1977Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions” guarantees civilians’ right to health in general and provided special protection for the wounded and the sick in particular. The International human rights law has also guaranteed the right of patients to access health services and treatment through a range of international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965).
Each patient’s Access to treatment he/she needs is of Israel’s responsibility, as an occupying power, under international law, towards the residents of the Gaza Strip. Thus, Israel’s disavowal of its responsibilities towards the Gaza residents is a serious violation of the rules of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
This report shows PCHR’s role in helping the patients referred for treatment abroad as PCHR daily monitors the violations against these patients. Further, PCHR’s Legal Unit has provided thousands of legal consultations to patients and their families over the years of closure and provided assistance to 1,103 patients who were unable to travel for various reasons, including lack of financial coverage or lack of specific hospital appointments. Moreover, the Unit provided legal assistance to 3,537 patients who were banned from traveling for treatment as it referred complaints and challenges to the Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) in order to enable patients who face obstacles to travel abroad for treatment.
Finally, this report was concluded with the following recommendations; most prominently: Calling upon the international community to pressurize Israel in order to stop its policy of imposing strict restrictions on the Gaza Strip patients and remove all obstacles that aim to deprive the Gaza Strip patients of travelling for treatment abroad.