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PHR: Delayed permission for exit from Gaza causes death of toddler

October 20, 2010 | Physicians for Human Rights

Occupied Territories Department of Physicians for Human Rights Reports on Another Death in Gaza of a Sick Person who Did Not Receive a Permit to Exit the Gaza Strip for Medical Care

Nasama Abu Lashin, a two-year old toddler from Gaza died on Saturday October 15, 2010 in the Netzer Hospital in Gaza.  Nasama did not receive a permit in time to receive medical care that could save her life in Haemek Hospital in Afula.

Nasama Abu Lashin, two years old, suffered from leukemia for which, on October 6, she was most urgently directed for life-saving treatment to Haemek Hospital in Afula.  Testimony from the family reveals that the request for the toddler and her accompanying father to receive a permit to exit the Gaza Strip was sent to the Gaza Coordinating Authority (Matak Gaza) the same day to arrange her exit on 10.10.10.  The response from Matak Gaza was not received immediately and the family was told on 10.10.10 that the request was “under consideration.”

On October 13 as the delay continued in receiving a reply to the request of the ill person, her family turned via Betselem to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) for assistance.  The same day PHR turned to Matak Gaza requesting immediate transfer of the toddler to the hospital in Israel, but the approval was given only in mid-day of October 14.

Tragically, due to a rapid deterioration, the toddler’s condition was so bad on the day the permit was received that the Gaza doctor treating her said it was no longer possible to transfer her to the Israeli hospital.  Nasama died of her illness early on the morning of October 16, 2010.

In light of this incident the PHR submitted a sharp complaint to the head of Matak Gaza demanding that an investigation be initiated and that those responsible for the delay be brought to justice.

This case follows the testimony of PHR as to the consequences of the Israeli policy of closing the borders of Gaza on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip before the Turkel Committee from October 13, 2010.  In its testimony the PHR noted before the committee members cases of the deaths of patients residing in the Gaza Strip whose exit for life-saving medical treatment was prevented by the Israeli authorities – a phenomenon that has increased since Israel tightened the closure on the Strip in June 2007.  In its testimony PHR emphasized that for the patient, the difference between receiving the permit for exit in time and not receiving it or receiving it after a delay was liable to be the difference between quality of life and unnecessary suffering that might possibly be prevented or even a matter of life and death, as was the situation in the present case.

Physicians for Human Rights calls upon the Israeli authorities at the Erez checkpoint to demand justice from those responsible for the delay in responding to the request of Nasama Abu Lashin.  PHR also repeats its demands of Israel to fulfil its obligations towards residents of the Gaza Strip to ensure the unrestricted access of the patients to medical care without delay.