'IDF delaying replies to sick Gazans'

Rights group petitions High Court, saying Palestinians' initial requests for exit permits ignored.

palestinian injured 224. (photo credit: AP)
palestinian injured 224.
(photo credit: AP)
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) on Thursday accused the IDF of deliberately delaying its responses to requests by the Palestinian Civilian Committee (PCC) and PHR to the Civil Administration to allow seriously ill Palestinians from Gaza to enter Israel for life-saving or urgent hospital treatment. The allegation came in a new petition filed by PHR with the High Court of Justice - its third on behalf of individual Palestinians who have not been able to enter via the Erez checkpoint to go to hospitals in Israel, Egypt, the West Bank or Jordan. In the earlier two petitions, PHR challenged the army's refusal to allow sick Palestinians to cross into Israel. This time, the thrust of the petition is the charge that the Civil Administration does not reply to the initial request for an exit permit, or, if it turns down the request, to the appeal against the original refusal. The petition involves 17 Palestinians. Thirteen have been waiting for weeks or months for a response from the Civil Administration's Coordination and Liaison Office to the requests they filed via the PCC or PHR. These includes two two-year-old babies, Ahmed Shamut and Tsabarin Abu Shanab. Shamut, who suffers from Ventricular Septal Defect, has been waiting for three months for a response to the PHR's appeal, after the original request for the baby and his father to cross into Israel for treatment was denied. Abu Shanab, who suffers from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, has been given four exit permits since November 21. However, each time she and her father have come to the Erez border crossing, they have been turned away. In the petition, PHR attorney Yohanna Lerman wrote that in November, her organization made appeals or inquiries on behalf of 133 sick Palestinians whose original requests had either been turned down or left unanswered. The Civil Administration replied in 24 cases. Regarding the other 109, it said it had not received a request, that it was still considering the request, or that it was approved pending interrogation by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).