IDF: WHO report 'completely wrong'

WHO claims dozens of Gazans die waiting for entry permits; army: over 90% of requests okayed.

Gaza hospital 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza hospital 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A World Health Organization (WHO) report that sharply criticized the IDF's screening of Palestinians who seek medical treatment in Israeli hospitals was flatly rejected by defense officials on Tuesday, who called it "completely wrong." The report was released during a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday held by Ambrogio Manenti, the head of WHO in Gaza and the West Bank, who called Israeli policy when it comes to allowing Gazans into Israel for treatment "inhumane." Manenti said that case studies of patients who died while waiting for permits to travel to Israel for treatment "show nonsense, inhumanity and, at the end, tragedy". Col. Nir Press, commander of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, rejected the report which he said was mistaken and ignored the fact that of the five case studies presented by the WHO, two of the sick Palestinians were in fact treated in Israeli hospitals. The other three, he said, were all granted permits that were never used due to internal Palestinian considerations. Press said that while the IDF was stringent with its screening of sick Palestinians - due to daily terror attacks in Gaza and attempts to smuggle suicide bombers into Israel this way - over 90 percent of the requests were approved to visit Israeli hospitals. In 2007, 7,226 permits were granted to sick Palestinians to travel to Israel, an increase of over 50% from 2006 when 4,754 were allowed in. All of those who receive permits are allowed to bring a family member to accompany them to Israel. Since the beginning of the year, 2,317 Palestinians have been allowed into Israel for medical treatment. The 10 percent denied permits - due to security threats - are, however, given the opportunity to take an Israeli shuttle to the Allenby Bridge and cross into Jordan or down to a crossing into Egypt. Since Israel does not talk to the Hamas terror group which controls Gaza, the CLA receives the requests and coordinates travel arrangements for the sick Palestinians with the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry in Ramallah. "Despite the non-stop rocket fire, Israel is doing all it can when it comes to allowing sick Palestinians into Israel from Gaza and the West Bank," Press said. "The reality is the outcome of the terror that does not stop against Israel and which targets the crossings that are used to take people out of Gaza for medical treatment." On Tuesday, mortars were fired into Netiv Ha'asara, right next to the Erez Crossing. Last May, two women who had received permits to enter Israel for treatment were discovered to be on their way to carry out suicide bombing attacks in Tel Aviv and Netanya. During the press conference, Manenti presented five cases of Gazans who died recently while he said they waited for a permit to enter Israel. Press rejected the claims that the five died while waiting for permits and claimed that each Palestinian mentioned in the report received permits to be treated in Israeli hospitals. One such case was of 34-year-old Mona Nofal who died of rectal cancer at Shifa Hospital in Gaza in November. The report claimed that Israel delayed granting her permits. Press pointed out, however, that Nofal's requests were approved each time and that she had in fact been treated in Israeli hospitals in July, August and October. Press said that Hamas used Nofal's case to blame Israel when in fact "she had died of cacner and not because of the siege."