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Injured Palestinian teen in Gaza denied exit permit for medical treatment

June 24, 2017 10:11 P.M. (Updated: June 24, 2017 10:19 P.M.)
(AFP/Abbas Momani, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have denied a Palestinian teenager an exit permit to travel from the besieged Gaza Strip to Jerusalem for medical treatment after the boy was shot and critically injured by Israeli forces at a protest last month, according to rights group Defense for Children International - Palestine (DCIP). 

Khalid Ghamri was shot with live ammunition on May 23 during clashes that erupted east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the “buffer zone” of the central Gaza Strip. He has since turned 17 years old.  

Dozens of young protesters had taken to the border to protest in solidarity with a mass Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, and clashed with Israeli forces that fired live ammunition at the crowd.

The day before Khalid was shot, an unidentified Palestinian youth was also shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in the leg, during clashes in the same area.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported at the time that Khalid, who was not yet named, was shot in the stomach. However, according to DCIP’s report, “the bullet caused an arm fracture, damage to multiple organs, as well as severe bleeding that left him in a coma.”  

According to DCIP, when the teen was hospitalized, a doctor recommended that the family apply for an urgent exit permit and an escort to travel through the Israeli-controlled Erez border crossing to Jerusalem for specialized care.

Khalid underwent surgery to remove his right kidney and repair damage to his aorta. Heavy blood loss carried the possibility of damage to other organs, including his brain, and caused a nine-day coma, medical sources at al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah told DCIP.

While Khalid was still in a coma, on May 27, his family applied for an exit permit so he could be treated in an Israeli hospital, but the Israeli Civil Affairs office denied the application.  

After Khalid recovered from the coma on May 31 and began daily courses of dialysis to remove toxins in his left kidney, the family filed a second permit request, for which they are still awaiting a response, DCIP said. 

“We are waiting to transfer him to the hospital in Jerusalem, but we don’t know why Israel is refusing to let him in through Erez crossing,” Khalid’s father told the organization. “He has the right to be treated and return home to his family and his school.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 42 percent of Palestinian requests for medical travel out of Gaza were denied or delayed by Israeli authorities in April 2017. Of this number, three children were denied and 178 children were delayed care.

WHO also reported that three Palestinians, including a five-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, died in Gaza in April while waiting for permission to leave for external treatment.

Gaza-based rights group the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reported last month that a patient in the besieged coastal enclave had died after being denied access to a hospital outside of Gaza. 

According to the group, 52-year-old Talat Mahmoud Sulaiman al-Shawi, a resident of Rafah in southern Gaza, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor. “Due to the delay in receiving the urgently needed medical treatment, the cancer metastasized to his spine, causing paralysis of the lower half of his body,” al-Mezan wrote at the time. 

Al-Mezan said that it “strongly condemns the continued closure and blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, now reaching ten years in its most stringent form. Israel’s control over Palestinian movement to and from the Strip, and deliberate delays in ensuring a free access to hospitals for Palestinian patients deprive many from their basic human rights.”  

The group further said it “deeply regrets the enduring harm inflicted on Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip, and deplores Israeli practices that cause further deterioration of patients’ health conditions. Al Mezan asserts that such practices amount to grave and systematic violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.” 

The rights groups said that had documented a “a stark increase of Israeli violations,” in recent months, “as half of the patients who submitted requests for travel permits have been denied access to hospitals.” 
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