Left on the Ground for Nearly an Hour, a Patient in a Serious Condition Dies Due to Restrictions at Erez Crossing
PCHR strongly condemns the unjustified complicated procedures adopted by Israeli occupation authorities at Erez crossing, which have led to the death of an old patient from the Gaza Strip, who was suffering from diabetes and hypertension, although they had already agreed to allow him to receive medical treatment at an Israeli hospital. PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, World Health Organization and the ICRC to exert pressure on Israeli occupation authorities to allow access of patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel through Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing.
According to information available to PCHR , Nemer Mohammed Salim Shuhaiber, 77, from al-Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City, was admitted into the ICU at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on 21 October 2007 as he was suffering from an acute heart attack. Since he was in a serious condition, the Palestinian Ministry of Health decided to transfer him to an Israeli hospital. On Monday, 22 October 2007, the liaison officer at the Ministry was able to coordinate with Israeli occupation authorities his passage through Erez crossing. The patient’s sons, Nahidh and ‘Adnan, also obtained permits to accompany him to the Israeli hospital. According to Nahidh, 42, he accompanied his father to Erez crossing. The ambulance driver was permitted by Israeli occupation authorities to pass through the crossing. When the ambulance moved forward, Israeli occupation troops fired at it, so the driver was forced to drive back and the patient was not able to travel to the Israeli hospital on that day although he was in a serious condition.
Also according to Nahidh, he and his brother ‘Adnan accompanied their father in a Palestinian ambulance, which transported them to Erez crossing at approximately 09:30 on Tuesday, 23 October 2007, as the Palestinian Ministry of Health coordinated their passage again with Israeli occupation forces. However, they were forced to wait for nearly 3 hours. Israeli occupation authorities then allowed the ambulance to pass towards the Israeli side of the crossing. The patient needed additional oxygen, which was brought by the ambulance driver from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Israeli occupation troops forced them to wait for two additional hours to conduct security checking on the ambulance. During the checking, Israeli troops placed the patient on the ground under the sun for nearly an hour, although his health condition was deteriorating. At the end of the security checking, Israeli troops ordered taking the patient back to Shifa Hospital, but he died soon.
Israeli occupation authorities have continued to close Erez crossing, banning free and safe passage of the Palestinian civilian population, including patients. The obstruction of the passage of patients through Erez crossing has caused 5 deaths in the past 6 months. For instance, on 3 August 2007, Wa’el Hasan Khalil Abu Warda, 27, from Jabalya village, died from a kidney failure when he was on his way to Ichilov Hospital in Israel. On 23 May 2007, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim Mansour, 23, died as Israeli occupation forces obstructed for 3 hours his passage into Israel to receive medical treatment. Mansour had been seriously wounded by several gunshots during internal fighting on 15 May 2007.
In a few examples, Israeli occupation authorities have allowed patients to pass through Erez crossing, but under unjustifiable complicated security procedures endangering the lives of such patients, especially as the majorities of cases transferred to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel are critical or serious. Such patients need advanced medical treatment, which is not available in the Gaza Strip. The closure of Rafah International Crossing Point has also precluded the transfer of patients to Egyptian Hospitals. Such restrictions imposed on the passage of patients are part of measures of collective punishment adopted by Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian civilian population, in violation of international law.
PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, World Health Organization and the ICRC to exert pressure on Israeli occupation authorities to allow access of patients from the Gaza Strip to hospitals in the West Bank and Israel, and the entry of medicines and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip.