Life Under Siege: Medical treatment denied
25 May 2017
Muhammad Walid Kaoud is a father and husband living in el Sheikh Omari area, in the east of Khan Yunis, who, together with his five siblings, has watched his father Walid Kaoud die a slow death from colon cancer at the age of 59, facilitated by the Israeli siege. “In 2008, my father was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent colon eradication in the European Gaza hospital. Thereafter, he received a treatment of 21 chemical doses over the course of 4 years, with medical check-ups monitoring his progress every 4 months”, Muhammad starts to tell the story of his father.
In the beginning of 2015, the doctors found cancerous cells in his lungs, which is why Walid was transferred to Assuta hospital in Tel Aviv for an atomic scanning. As with the majority of patients suffering from the absence of medical facilities and equipment in Gaza, Walid’s application for a permit to cross through Erez into Israel for medical reasons was denied twice. Only the third attempt to get a permit led to a positive result and enabled Walid to travel to Israel on 10 November 2015 for a few hours only to do the check-up. “My dad told me that coming back into Gaza was humiliating and exhausting, as he was interrogated, searched nakedly and asked to stand next to the wall in a position causing a lot of pain for him in his medical condition. Then the Israeli intelligence officer asked my dad about my siblings. He was the last one to leave the interrogation office that night”, Muhammad explains. During the interrogation, the Israeli officer informed Walid that he has to bring his four children, who allegedly are part of the resistance, to the Erez Crossing if he ever wanted to be able to travel again. The Israeli officer emphasized: “Don’t even dream about ever coming back here again to get treated in Israel or even pass through Erez Crossing if you don’t get your children here.”
The interrogation lasted for 6 hours and the pressure and exhaustion led Walid to faint when he was finally released at 1 am in the morning. A few days later the family received the results of the atomic scanning, showing that there was a formation of cancer cells in Walid’s left under arm. The doctors informed him that the condition can be controlled with a specific treatment, which, however, is not available in Gaza. Accordingly, the doctors transferred Walid to Augusta Victoria and Saint Joseph hospital for the treatment but Walid’s application for a permit into Israel was denied four consecutive times. That obliged him to take three light chemotherapy sessions in the European Gaza hospital instead and gradually his health condition deteriorated.
“After 4 times of rejection, my father preceded to the PCHR in April 2016 to ask for legal help. The lawyers applied for Walid’s permit six times, at least once per month, and every time the response was negative”, Muhammad tells. While the family was fighting for a permit, Walid’s disease spread to the brain and he was forced to be transferred to the European Gaza hospital. “My father was very patient and very optimistic until the end, even after 7 years of pain. His ongoing struggle with and the humiliation by the Israelis denied him the medical treatment he deserved and killed him”, Muhammad tells in tears. “In March 2017, my father stopped moving and lost his memory and speaking ability, as his situation worsened. We lost him on a Tuesday afternoon, 2 May 2017. He became a victim of the Israeli’s threats and blackmailing and had to pay the price for not delivering his sons to the occupying power.”
The Israeli siege is not only depriving the Gaza population from enjoying the highest attainable standard of health within Gaza, but is prohibiting them from receiving medical treatment outside of Gaza. In 2016, 10,003 patients who were supposed to receive medical treatment in Israel or the West Bank were obstructed from travelling, according to the Ministry of Health. While the majority is waiting for a reply following their security interviews, almost 2,000 patients were denied to leave Gaza for security reasons. Thereby, the occupying power is violating the Palestinian’s access to the highest attainable standard of health, which is a fundamental right of every human being, and lastly causing the death and suffering of many.