A new report by Physician for Human Rights has shown a significant increase in the number of permits issued to parents living in Gaza granting permission for them to take their children to Israel or the West Bank for medical treatment. According to the report, 56 percent of the children who left the strip for medical treatment between February and September 2018 were not accompanied by their parents. However, of those travelling between October 2018 and July 2019, this figure had dropped to 21 percent. The data is based on information provided by the IPSC (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), Maariv has reported. The marked reduction in the number of children travelling without their parents has come about largely thanks to the new "accompanying parent permit," which fast tracks applications by the parents of children in need of medical treatment. Medical psychologist Oren Lehek emphasized the importance of parents accompanying their children when it comes to improved recovery following procedures. "A sick child needs his or her parents in order to maintain as familiar a routine as possible and to prevent psychopathology that may develop as a result of their absence, as well as to improve rehabilitation (mentally and physically) and return to routine," he said. Despite the improvement in the granting of permits, the report calls on Israeli authorities to do more to ease the way for parents to escort their children. It is also critical of the Palestinian Civil Commission, which it says advises parents not to apply for permits at all due to the difficulties of having them approved. Instead, families are encouraged to apply for permits for grandparents to escort the children instead. Israeli hospitals are also criticized in the report, which found that one Palestinian hospital in East Jerusalem encouraged parents to stay away by warning them that, due to a lack of accommodation on site, they would not be able to stay with their children during their hospitalization. "The policy of separating children from their parents during medical treatment systematically and permanently infringes on the health of children from the Gaza Strip and reduces their chances of recovery," Ghada Majadele, director of Physician for Human Rights said, adding: "All the parties involved must prioritize the issue."