Court delays hearing on Gazan seeking exit permits for treatment

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday postponed a hearing on a petition by Physicians for Human Rights on behalf of 17 seriously ill Gazans. The petitioners have been waiting weeks or months for answers from the Civil Administration to their requests to enter Israel for treatment in hospitals in Israel, the West Bank, Egypt and Jordan. A panel consisting of Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin and Justices Miriam Na'or and Yoram Danziger said they did not have time to hear the cases of all the petitioners during the hearing. They instructed Physicians for Human Rights to choose the petitioners who had the most urgent cases and to leave the rest for a hearing the following week. Physicians for Human Rights attorney Yohanna Lerman told the court she could not divide the group. All of them had medical evaluations and all were in very serious condition, she said. During the hearing, Na'or said that according to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), those Palestinians who were the most seriously ill, including those with terminal illnesses, posed the greatest security threat because they were the most bitter and had nothing to lose. The court insisted on dealing with each case individually, even though in previous, similar petitions, other panels had been prepared to deal with all the cases in one broad hearing. Lerman said the fate of some petitioners could be decided by the composition of the particular panel hearing their petition. This is Physicians for Human Rights's third petition on behalf of Gazans who need hospital treatment outside the Strip. Lerman added that the justices had refused to deal with the other part of the petition, which alleged that the civil administration had deliberately dragged its feet in responding to requests by sick Gazans for permits to exit the Strip through the Erez checkpoint for hospital treatment. In the end, the court decided to postpone the hearing until next week, when it will discuss each request for an exit permit separately.