A Palestinian girl, who was waiting for an answer concerning the permit request to exit Gaza for medical treatment in East Jerusalem, has died.
Aya Khalil Abu Metalq, 5, from Abasan Al Kabera in the eastern area of Khan Younis, was born with a metabolic disorder. It was necessary for her to travel to East Jerusalem because of inadequate medical facilities in Gaza. Therefore, her family requested the Palestinian Ministry of Health for a medical referral to receive treatment at the Al Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.
Aya received confirmation from the hospital for an appointment on Feb. 5, 2017. Her family applied for a permit through the Liaison Office to exit Gaza. However, Israeli authorities at Erez crossing failed to reply to her request in time. As a result she missed the appointment.
Her family didn’t give up and sent another request to the hospital seeking another appointment. The hospital responded and granted a new date of Mar. 19, 2017. Just like last time, the Israeli authorities didn’t respond in time. Her family was forced to request for an appointment for the third time and again a new date of Apr. 27, 2017 was granted by the hospital.
However, just as the family was waiting for the Israeli authorities to get back to them, Aya’s health worsened. She was shifted to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis but unfortunately she passed away on Apr. 17, 2017.
This is not the first case of its kind.
In January, Ahmad Hassan Shubeir, 17, died after he refused an Israeli security forces’ offer to spy on Palestinians in order to access treatment. He was born with a congenital heart defect and had undergone a number of operations. The operation to have his heart valve replaced was postponed a number of times. He was explicitly told by Israeli authorities that in order to have his operation, he would have to cooperate with the security forces and spy for Israel. He refused and chose to stay in Gaza. As a result, his health deteriorated and he passed away.
According to Al Mezan, just four months into 2017, three patients have died awaiting permits to exit Gaza. As compared to 2016, approval rate for permits has decreased by 20%. The Fourth Geneva Convention obliges Israel as the occupying power to ensure and maintain medical supplies, servicesand public health to the fullest extent of the means available to it and facilitate relief schemes on behalf of the protected population where necessary. However, the closure practices amount to a grave violation of the International Humanitarian Law.
In Sept. 2000, Israel imposed a comprehensive closure on the Occupied Territories. As a result, for a few months Palestinians were completely barred to enter Israel and to travel between the West Bank. However, later, Israel allowed a limited number of workers from the Occupied Territories and imposed severe restrictions for Palestinians to enter the country for medical treatments.