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WHO: Israel delays or denies 2 in every 5 Gaza patients access to health care abroad

Sept. 10, 2017 11:57 A.M. (Updated: Sept. 10, 2017 5:45 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities delayed or denied two out of every five patients in the Gaza Strip access to medical care outside of the besieged coastal enclave over the month of July, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Friday.

During that period, two Palestinians -- a five-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man -- died while waiting to receive permission to leave the blockaded territory for treatment.

Yousef Zourub, a 22-year-old man with Gaucher’s disease, had severe case of pneumonia and missed several appointments at Makassed Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem after his application for Israeli exit permit was delayed.

Following his application for the hospital appointment on July 16, Israeli General Security Services requested that Zourub appear for security interrogation at Israel’s Erez border crossing on that day. However, he died at the European Gaza Hospital on the day of the appointment.

In its monthly report on the referral of Gaza patients, the WHO said that 42.6 percent of patients saw their permits either delayed or denied -- 45 out of the total 1,847 applications were denied, while 742 were delayed with no response from Israel by the time of the patient's hospital appointment.

Among those delayed were 153 minors and 89 people over 60 years old.

Meanwhile, the majority of permits for patients companions were either delayed or denied in June, with just 47.7 percent of the 2,013 applicants getting approval to accompany their loved ones to the hospital.

The report said 94 patients (57 males; 37 females) were requested for interrogation by the Israeli General Security Services at Erez during July. Only five were approved permits to travel for health care.

The WHO also reported an increase in July in the number of referrals issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Health for Gaza patients, which in June reached its lowest number since WHO started to monitor referrals in 2009, marking an 80 percent drop from the monthly average in 2016.

The modest increase came after the Palestinian Authority (PA) was accused of deliberately preventing Palestinians in Gaza Strip from leaving the territory for medical treatment with no explanation, allegations the PA denied.

According to local organization the al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, 15 medical patients died in Gaza since the beginning of the year after being denied permits by the Israeli authorities that would have allowed them access to hospitals.
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