16 Palestinians dead after being refused treatment

Israel still blocking entry to 11 Gazan security suspects.

palestinian injured 224. (photo credit: AP)
palestinian injured 224.
(photo credit: AP)
Sixteen Palestinians from the Gaza Strip died over the past month because they did not receive medical treatment, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) attorney Yohanna Lerman told the High Court of Justice on Monday. Lerman was addressing the court in a PHR petition demanding that the state allow 11 seriously ill Palestinians cross into Israel to reach hospitals in the West Bank, Jordan and Israel itself. All 11 are security suspects and therefore banned from entering the country. Of the original 11, six have been allowed to enter Israel since the petition was filed and a seventh has died. The government insists that the other four may not enter Israel but will be allowed to go directly from the Gaza Strip to Egypt by way of the Kerem Shalom border crossing. However, the crossing is not yet open and there is no opening date in sight. The state provided details regarding the security threat posed by the four petitioners to the court behind closed doors. Afterwards, the panel of three justices headed by Elyakim Rubinstein said they would hand down their decision at a later date. Earlier, Rubinstein asked Lerman to describe the medical state of the remaining petitioners. She said that Ramadan Tanbura needed an emergency diagnosis because he suffered from a rare cancer which was spreading rapidly and had already reached his spinal cord. Nur Shomer was diagnosed as having a malignant growth in his pancreas and required urgent surgery. Lerman said he had been prepared to travel via Egypt if the Kerem Shalom border crossing were open. Yasser Abu Hiya's condition had deteriorated recently, she continued. He suffered from a heart ailment and breathed with difficulty. Yusef Saleh was suffering from a malignant growth in his head and urgently required an operation. She said the fact that the petitioners were suspected of posing security threats to Israel was irrelevant in this matter since they were seriously ill. Leaving them with no solution was tantamount to condemning them to death, she argued. Asked for practical solutions to the problem, Lerman said that the state's replies to requests to cross into Israel should be given in writing rather than orally. She said that the army claimed it had given Na'al al-Kurdi, the petitioner who died of cancer on November 17, permission to enter Israel for treatment three days earlier, on November 14. However, there was no record that PHR or Kurdi had been notified of the decision. The Physicians' Association proposed placing a doctor at the border crossing point to examine the condition of any Palestinian who wanted to enter Israel for medical treatment to determine how serious his condition was. Rubinstein and Justice Salim Joubran also supported the idea. The state's representative, Gilad Shirman, repeated the state's position that Israel did not have obligations towards the Gaza Strip and therefore the inhabitants of the area did not have any innate rights. It was the state's policy not to allow Palestinians who posed a security threat to enter the country. Although the state had made exceptions regarding six of the petitioners, it could not do so regarding the four remaining ones because of the seriousness of the threat they allegedly posed.