Even though Israeli authorities asserted last week they would allow Palestinian medical patients to leave through the Erez crossing into Occupied Territories, they are still preventing the entry of cancer patients requiring chemotherapy, according to a report published by the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz.
Doctors, families and human rights advocates have warned that the border crossing must be reopened for medical cases before the most vulnerable patients become critically ill or die.
Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and the Palestinian human rights organization al-Mezan stated that Israeli officials are only allowing the entry of people needing to reach intensive care units by ambulance.
They highlighted that the officials agreed to let only a a few isolated cases through following the intervention of the Palestinian Authority and other organizations.
One of the patients denied entry was a cancer patient from Gaza City called Souad, whose real name was withheld at her request.
Souad is seriously ill and has a long-range permit allowing her multiple entries so that she can be treated at the Augusta Victoria hospital in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds. Her treatment includes chemotherapy.
The Palestinian woman came to the Erez crossing last Tuesday on her way to receiving treatment, but was denied entry. She tried again on Sunday, but was refused entry yet again.
“My wife is gravely ill with cancer and her situation is deteriorating. The first time we came we waited three hours, after which we were told we could not proceed. On Sunday, they refused us entry again. My wife has a biological and chemotherapeutic treatment protocol for her cancer and every delay aggravates her situation,” her husband told Haaretz.
Separately, Hussein Najjar, a fisherman from southern Gaza, said his 61-year-old mother has grown weak and depressed since missing her regular chemotherapy treatment in Augusta Victoria Hospital for colorectal and lung cancer.
“Even if we get an appointment today, we don’t know when the crossing will be open and she will be able to go,” Najjar said. “She’s looking for a way to survive, and we can’t find it.”
The family’s situation was made more difficult after Najjar’s boat was destroyed along with several others when an Israeli missile struck a harbor during the bombardment, he said.
His family of seven, including his father and ailing mother, are surviving on a monthly donation of about $50 a month from Oxfam International, he said.
Health officials are also concerned about the coronavirus crisis in the Gaza Strip given that the only COVID-test laboratory is now inoperable due to the damage caused by an Israeli air raid that hit a nearby building during the 11-day aggression on the enclave.
At least 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip in 11 days of conflict that began on May 10. Israel’s airstrikes also brought widespread devastation to the already impoverished territory.
The Gaza-based resistance movements responded by launching over 4,000 rockets into the occupied territories, some reaching as far as Tel Aviv and even Haifa and Nazareth to the north.
The Israeli regime was eventually forced to announce a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, which came into force in the early hours of May 21.