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Ha’aretz: The evil decree

(See Ch. 10 TV news items linked below)

The scene shown Tuesday night (second TV item) on television was one of the most harsh and shameful seen here in recent times: a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Ahmed Samut from Khan Yunis, and a nine-and-a-half-year-old girl, Sausan Jaafari, of Rafah, as they entered the Erez crossing alone, after being torn from the arms of their weeping parents.

The two children have heart conditions and need urgent surgery to save their lives. Wolfson Medical Center in Holon agreed to care for them, as part of their Save a Child’s Heart program that saves the lives of children around the world.

The hospital is to be praised for the project. The editors at Channel 10 News and reporter Shlomi Eldar are also to be praised. Israel and its security establishment, however, deserve a mark of disgrace.

The parents of the two children, both fathers and mothers, were not permitted by the Israel Defense Forces’ coordination and liaison administration to accompany their children to the fateful surgery. They are “denied entry” to Israel. The fact that Sausan’s parents had accompanied her to previous operations at Wolfson did not change the evil decree. It is indeed a decree of unparalleled evil. Only the elderly uncle of one of the children was allowed to go with them.

The images of children walking alone on their way to the frightening surgery should have reverberated from one end of the country to the other. They should have disturbed all Israelis, no matter what their political outlook. All parents in Israel should have put themselves in the place of those unfortunate parents.

Israel must not take inordinate pride in the very fact that it provides medical care for two sick children. In the state of siege it has imposed on Gaza, Israel bears heavy moral responsibility for the welfare and health of the besieged. It should also be noted that the siege is preventing Gaza’s Shifa Hospital from expanding its departments as planned, due to lack of building materials in Gaza. But the decision not to allow parents to accompany their children, which is also made in many other cases in which patients are denied entry to Israel for life-saving treatments, is insufferable.

Israel is taking the name of security in vain. No security consideration can excuse closing the crossing to the sick children’s parents, who are under no suspicion and who are not allowed in only because of their young age.

The security establishment has enough tools to make exceptions to the accepted practices that it has put in place arbitrarily, and to know how to filter out the humanitarian cases that must be allowed to cross. Sausan’s and Ahmed’s parents have the basic human right to nurse their children through their most difficult hours.

It is not too late. The security establishment should immediately allow the parents to enter Israel and ease its decrees in similar humanitarian cases. This is not about security, and it is not only about the fate of these families; it is about Israel’s moral image. The image that came through on television Tuesday night raises some very doleful thoughts.

Pt. 1. Gazan patients do not obtain permits for medical treatment in Israel


Broadcasted in the main evening news of Ch. 10 on December 31 2007.

The translation of the text:
The Physicians for Human Rights Association ( PHR) claims that the security authorities prevent the entry to Israel of critically ill Palestinians who are in need of medical treatment in Israeli Hospital. PHR claims that unlike in the past, the Security Authorities ignore applications submitted by sick people.

Two and a half year old Ahmed Shammout suffers from a rare heart defect. He’s been waiting since September for a permit to go to Israel for a heart surgery.
Wolfson hospital has coordinated three times a surgery for him, but he couldn’t make it. Two and a half year old Ahmed Shammout is going to die.

Amne Shammout, Ahmed’s mother:
When Ahmed was born, he had two holes in his heart. He got sick in the nursery, so we took him to the hospital [in Israel]; the doctor examined him and told us that he has two holes in his heart.

Prof’ Rafi Walden, deputy manager of Sheeba Hospital and a member of PHR:
We issue life sentences; we often have the feeling that the GSS or the IDF, on very law levels issue life sentences – they condemn people to permanent disability or maybe even to death.

Since September, since Gaza has been declared as a hostile entity, there was a drastic drop in the number of patients allowed to exit [the Gaza strip] and go to Israel to receive critical treatment. Here is another example:

Sawsan Jaa’fari:
I have here a device I need to change.

This is Sawsan Jaa’fari from Rafah. She also has a heart defect.

It hurts here and in my chest, I can’t sleep at night.

A year ago Sawsan was treated in Israel, a pacer was laid into her chest and now it has to be replaced. After never ending applications she has been now granted a positive answer, but pay attention to what she had been told:

They rejected my father’s and mother’s permit requests, I have to go alone.
I have to go alone; it’s my right to go with my father and mother.

Zakaria Jaa’fari, Sawsan’s father:
The time before last, I was with her. I’ve stayed with her for 10 days in the Wolfson hospital in Holon.

So what has changed from last year? It seems that the policy changed

The big surprise was that they rejected my request, me, the father, denied my permit. We applied for a permit for the mother and we got a negative answer too. They asked us to bring first degree relatives. Her grandmother is dead, her grandfather is very old. There is no one to take care of her.

Prof’ Rafi:
We have here another example, a 17 year old boy with a brain tumor. We tried and begged for weeks and months, to get him a permit to allow him to enter to Israel for a treatment that might save his life. The tragic ending was that one day at two o’clock in the afternoon we received information from the parents that the boy passed away, and at three o’clock the same afternoon we were notified that that he was granted the permit to enter into Israel.

Since September 2007, 511 applications for treatment in Israel were received by the “Physicians for human rights” association. 146 of them were declined, 314 of them didn’t get any answer, and only 32 were granted permits to enter into Israel for medical treatment.

Ahmed’s mother has been begging for help for months now, she appealed to anyone who might have the capacity to save here son and Sawsan is still afraid to go into Israel by herself.

Another reporter from the studio:
The GSS response to the report:
Israel approves entry to Israel for Palestinians for humanitarian needs only. Lately there was an increase in exploiting the humanitarian policy by bribing doctors in Gaza to forge medical certificates. Despite of this, the security authorities are examining every application with serious consideration.
End of response.

Pt. 2 Palestinian children sent alone to Israeli Hospital
Ch 10 report by Shlomi Eldar (pt.2)

A group of Palestinian children arrived to Wolfson Hospital in Israel alone, some of them babies. Their parents were prevented from accompanying them because of security reasons. (Shlomi Eldar, Ch. 10, 4.45 min)

Broadcasted in main evening news magazine, 8.1.2008

At Erez crossing:
Ahmed’s mother:
Can a child undergo surgery all by himself, without having his mother of father by his side?

Zakaria Jaa’fari, Sawsan’s father:
Thank God, we managed to coordinate the crossing permit for Sawsan after a year of hardships.

Sawsan’s mother:
Take care of yourself, dress well, eat well.

Zakaria Jaa’fari, Sawsan’s father:
Should a little girl get to Israel by herself, have a medical operation by herself and get back by herself?

Parents saying Farewell to their daughter

Reporter Shlomi Eldar:
All the efforts and persuasion and pressure exerted by the hospital staff and the “Save a Child’s Heart” project managers didn’t work and Sawsan will go by herself to Wolfson hospital in Israel.

Ever since Israel hardened the criteria for letting people out of the Gaza strip, Sawsan’s parents were put on the “prevented entry” list.

Ten year old Sawsan will leave to Israel by herself.

Two and a half year old Muhammad, who needs a heart surgery, will also leave without his parents. The solution found was the child will be accompanied to Wolfson hospital by his uncle, who’s not on the “prevented entry” list,.

Ahmed’s mother:
My child, my child…
Background voice:
God will help him, and he will get back by God’s will…
This was the only choice given to the parents and they chose to give there child life.

Reporter Shlomi Eldar:
Muhammad was born with a severe heart defect. Following the report we’ve broadcasted last week, worlds were turned upside down in Wolfson hospital to find a way to get Muhammad to the surgery and save his life.

Ahmed’s mother pleading:
Abu Sliman, swear that you’ll take good care of him, with God’s help.

Reporter Shlomi Eldar:
Patients’ requests [to cross to Israel for medical treatment] who can’t be treated in Gaza are usually approved by the Israeli liaison, however, the liaison office also faces cases being rejected because of the stricter rules applied for approving exit permits out of Gaza.

Reporter asking the doctor:
Is it difficult to have the child here without his/her parents, right?

MD Randa Awwad, Wolfson hospital:
Most of the times we see them accompanied with one of the parents, but sometimes when the mother is 35 years old or younger they won’t give her a crossing permit to come here with her child, that’s what I know.

Reporter to another doctor:
I have to say that the effort you’ve put over past week into getting those two children here is remarkable.

MD Simon Fisher, Wolfson hospital:
There are many good people who help.

I saw that you personally fought hard for these kids

MD Simon Fisher, Wolfson hospital:
We have a great teamwork going on here it’s a shame that such a story would spoil the wonderful work that is being done here.

Reporter :
“Save a Child’s Heart” project and Wolfson hospital fight for children’s lives from all over the world, children from Iraq, Kenya, Jordan and of course from the Palestinian territories. 200 children were underwent heart surgery here in the past year.

Mother asks the doctor about another child\s heart surgery:
MD Akiva Tamir, Wolfson hospital:
When he’ll grow up we will operate him too. First he must get older.

The Child’s Mother:
Will he stay sick till he gets older?

MD Akiva Tamir, Wolfson hospital:
His heart valve is not in a good condition, he will have to get a surgery, but he needs to get older and stronger first.

MD Akiva Tamir, Wolfson hospital about Sawsan:
She was here when she was four months old. She underwent surgery. She was accompanied by her mother. In the end she needed a pacemaker. [which has to be checked from time to time]

Sawsan’s pacemaker was checked and she went back home to Khan Yunis till the next check up.

Muhammad will get have his heart surgery soon, his uncle will stay by his side.

Ahmed’s uncle:
I can I leave him here and go back?

Ahmed’s mother:
God help me and bring me back my son in peace…

It’s not too late to let Muhammad’s mother join her son and stay his side when they operate him. Nevertheless is a heart surgery for a two and a half year old boy.

Current status of the two cases: both kids are back in Gaza. The little boy will have to return for the surgery in couple of weeks.