erez crossing 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
One of seven seriously ill Palestinians waiting for word from the High Court of Justice as to whether they may cross over to Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment died on Sunday of his illness.
He was identified as Na'al Al-Kurdi, 21, who suffered from cancer.
Kurdi was one of 11 seriously ill Palestinians who originally petitioned the High Court of Justice to be allowed to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment in Jordan, the West Bank, east Jerusalem or Israel. The petition was filed on their behalf by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Before the first hearing was held last week, the state agreed to allow four of the petitioners to leave the Gaza Strip.
During the hearing, the state argued that it had to achieve a proper balance between Israel's security needs and its obligation to provide for humanitarian needs. It also maintained that Israel did not have any responsibility for Gaza after its unilateral withdrawal in 2005 and therefore its residents were not entitled to any rights in Israel.
Regarding the seven remaining petitioners, the state said it would allow them to cross over to Egypt via the Kerem Shalom border crossing. From there, they could make their way to the hospitals where they were seeking treatment. The court gave PHR two days to determine how many of them were capable of taking the lengthy and arduous journey from Gaza to Egypt and from there to Jordan, the West Bank or east Jerusalem.
After investigating the matter, PHR found that only three of the seven were strong enough to make the trip. The court then gave the state five days to determine whether it would allow the other four to leave Gaza via the Erez Crossing and Israel.
On Sunday, however, the state informed PHR that it was withdrawing the offer to allow the Palestinians to leave through Kerem Shalom.
The court is due to receive the state's response on Monday. Weingarten said that as soon as the response was submitted, PHR would request another hearing. In the meantime, the state also informed PHR that it would grant Kurdi permission to enter Israel. But the decision came too late.
According to PHR official Miri Weingarten, Kurdi was a cancer patient who had been referred in July to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for urgent diagnostic services to determine what kind of care he needed. Since then, he was refused entry repeatedly and his condition seriously deteriorated. He also developed secondary tumors in the liver.
Meanwhile, Weingarten said that the handling of 140 applications for exit visas from Gaza by seriously ill patients had been frozen for a week because Israel refused to receive them from Salem al-Masri, who had been put in charge of handling the applications on the Palestinian side. Masri is considered a security threat by Israel. Weingarten added that the government in Gaza had replaced him with one of Masri's assistants, Rifat Muhsein, and the applications were once again being processed.
In its petition, PHR also charged that sick Palestinians who have been granted permits after passing a security check must undergo an "interview" with officials of the Shin Bet Security Agency at the Erez Crossing. The organization charged that during these interviews, Shin Bet Security Agency agents have been demanding that the Palestinians cooperate with them and divulge details about relatives and friends.
In at least one case, Weingarten told the Post, one sick Palestinian was sent back to Gaza even though he had an exit permit because he refused to cooperate.
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