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Israeli court rules govt policy of denying Gaza patients access to medical treatment as leverage over Hamas ‘ineffective and illegal’

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Israel’s High Court overturned on Sunday evening the security cabinet’s previous decision to prevent five Palestinian women, mostly cancer patients, from Gaza from receiving life-saving treatment in occupied East Jerusalem on the basis that the women had relatives that were active in the Hamas movement.

According to a joint statement from rights groups Gisha, Al Mezan, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel — who filed the petition earlier this month on behalf of the women — the court ruled that “the decision to deny Gaza patients access to medical treatment as means of leverage over Hamas was ineffective and illegal.”

In its decision, the court also confirmed that the patients themselves “did not pose any threat to Israel’s security,” the statement said, adding that the women’s lawyers argued that denying them passage through Israel to reach the hospitals in East Jerusalem “was illegal and effectively constituted a punitive death sentence for reasons entirely out of their control.”

The women were previously banned by the state from entering Israel from Gaza as part of an attempt to pressure Hamas into returning the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 war, and two Israeli citizens who are believed to be held by the group.

The five are just some of hundreds of Palestinians who have been denied entry by Israel over the past year, following the 2017 decision to deny entry into Israel to patients who are Hamas members or their relatives.

The decision was made as a direct result of pressure from the family of Hadar Goldin, one of the Israeli soldiers whose body is being held in Gaza.

While the rights groups hailed the decision, they criticized the fact that “it required three Supreme Court justices to raise a black flag over a policy that, from the very start, was clearly cruel and illegal.”

“The court rightly dismissed the Israeli defense minister and cabinet’s outrageous decision to use patients in critical condition as bargaining chips,” the groups continued, calling the policy “immoral” and “in contravention of international human rights norms.”

“The ruling revokes just the latest manifestation of restrictions on patients’ access to treatment and does not deal with Israel’s overall restrictive access policy, which continues to put thousands of patients at risk.”

According to the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, in 2018 alone, Israel has denied 833 exit permit applications by residents of Gaza on the grounds that the applicants had a “first-degree relative” that is a “Hamas operative.”

In comparison, Israeli authorities denied 21 applications on such grounds in all of 2017.

Starting June 2018, Israeli authorities rejected the applications of at least 13 patients, including cancer patients, in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, Al Mezan reported.

Some of the patients who were denied, according to the group, are not even aware of any family members either affiliated with or active in Hamas, the group said, adding that “the solution to the crisis in Gaza cannot be found in further collective punishment and abuse of the civilian population, but rather in opening the crossings and enabling Gaza’s recovery.”

Sunday’s decision comes on the heels of a worsening medical crisis in Gaza, which earlier this month saw over 8,000 cancer patients put at risk due to a shortage of chemotherapy drugs.

Officials in Gaza have cited the worsening Israeli siege on the territory as a reason for the shortages.

One hospital, the al-Rantisi Hospital, which according to the Gaza Ministry of Health treats 6,560 cancer patients — including 460 children — announced that it was no longer able to provide patients with chemotherapy sessions.

Gaza is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, over 70% of which are refugees.

A more than decade-long Israeli air, land, and sea blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, which boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 44 percent, leaving an estimated 80 percent of the territory’s population dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Gaza has often been compared to an “open air prison,” and in 2015, the UN warned that the it could become “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to improve the situation.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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6 Responses

  1. amigo on August 29, 2018, 10:01 am

    geez I thought at first this might be a serious matter for the GOI , until I recalled that the GOI pays no attention to it,s Supreme Court , unless of course it rules in their favour.


    “The Jerusalem District Court accepted Tuesday the claims of the residents of the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Kramim, ordering to give it a legal status of a settlement, although it was built on private Palestinian lands.

    This precedential ruling applied the market overt legal concept, a Medieval rule that regulates the status of stolen property, in case some conditions apply. This is the first time market overt was applied in the West Bank, and has the potential to allow the legalization of dozens of outposts built on private Palestinian property in the disputed territories.

    The market overt concept determines that “any deal made in good faith between authorities and an individual, regarding a property that authorities thought to be governmental property at the time, will remain valid even if proven the property was not actually at the possesion of the government.”,7340,L-5337250,00.html

    “The Market overt Legal Concept”.

    F,F,S. Very Dershowitzonian concept.

  2. just on August 29, 2018, 10:30 am

    “Leaving Them to Die in Gaza …

    Anyone who’s been a partner to the cruelty involved in the original decision not to allow the women to come for medical treatment should think carefully about whether he has acquired a place in hell for himself. From the defense minister, who formulated the inhumane policy, we should have no expectations. From some of the others involved in the terrible decision – we should. …

    I wonder how they’re living with their conscience. Army officers carried out this terrible order. An entire benighted system translated into lofty words, ostensibly legal instructions and criteria an inhumane order that severs any connection between us and what we wish to be.

    It’s a little painful to say this, but the Goldin and Shaul families – with all the pain that they have experienced and are still experiencing – should think whether their aggressive campaign to release their sons’ remains isn’t taking the government a step too far.

    After the High Court decision, MK Bezalel Smotrich of Habayit Hayehudi dispatched a sickening tweet: “This ruling is activism on steroids. Without any legal source, lacking any understanding at all about policy and security. The High Court is intervening in a cabinet decision of a clearly political and security nature, and is once again undermining Israel’s security. We will have to overturn the ruling with legislation.”

    Smotrich has the facts wrong. This does not constitute a violation of a cabinet decision (which is terrible in itself). Even the cabinet of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked didn’t dare go as far as Smotrich.”

    • Kay24 on August 29, 2018, 3:56 pm

      They are people with no conscience, remorse, nor compassion.
      That is why they find it so easy to inflict pain and suffering on those who are totally helpless, and depended on their mercy.
      The US faults other rogue nations for the inhumane treatment of civilians, but not only pretends their dear ally is blameless, but aids and arms them too. This is why we are hated in that region.

      • Misterioso on August 30, 2018, 2:38 pm

        counterpunch, August 30, 2018
        “When Illness is a ‘Death Sentence’: The Victimization of Gaza Women”
        By Ramzy Baroud

        “Hanan al-Khoudari resorted to Facebook in a cry for help when Israeli authorities rejected her request to accompany her three-year-old son, Louay, to his chemotherapy treatment in East Jerusalem.

        “The boy is suffering from an ‘aggressive soft tissue sarcoma’. Israeli authorities then justified their decision based on a vague claim that one of Hannan’s relatives is a ‘Hamas operative.’

        “The rights group, Gisha reported that the state remains unwilling to define precisely what it means to be a ‘Hamas operative.’ Even if an explanation is offered, denying gravely ill Palestinians from receiving life-saving treatment remains an immoral and illegal act.

        “’The state is sentencing the petitioners to death or a lifetime of suffering,’ said Muna Haddad, an advocate with Gisha. By ‘petitioners’, she was referring to seven Gaza women who were denied access to urgent medical treatment by Israel, which required them to leave the besieged Gaza Strip.”

        “The suffering of Gaza women rarely makes headlines. When Palestinian women are not invisible in Western media coverage, they are seen as hapless victims of circumstances beyond their control.

        “The fact that a woman from Gaza is ‘sentenced to death’ simply because a male relative is shunned by Israel is quite typical behavior from a country that oddly presents itself internationally as an oasis for equality and women rights.

        “It feeds into the false notion that Palestinian women are trapped in a ‘conflict’ in which they play no part. Such misrepresentations undermine the political and humanitarian urgency of the plight of Palestinian women and the Palestinian people, as a whole.

        “In truth, Palestinian women are hardly bystanders in the collective victimization. They deserve to be made visible and understood within the larger context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

        “The seven women who petitioned the Israeli court, and the story of Hanan al-Khoudari, are but a small representation of thousands of women who are suffering in Gaza without legal advocates or media coverage.

        “I spoke to several of these women – whose suffering is only matched by their incredible resilience – who deserve more than mere recognition, but an urgent remedy as well.”

      • RoHa on August 30, 2018, 10:26 pm

        Just another fine day in Palestine.

  3. Elizabeth Block on August 30, 2018, 9:02 am

    “The decision was made as a direct result of pressure from the family of Hadar Goldin, one of the Israeli soldiers whose body is being held in Gaza.”
    Oh. So in order for Israeli judges to make a just ruling, they have to be pressured by Jews. Shocking, but not surprising.

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