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[Executive Summary:]

  • For several years, the Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights (now the UN Human Rights Council) and human rights groups have criticized the Israeli government and health care system for denying access to Gazans seeking to receive permits for care in hospitals in Israel, the PA and Jordan. Yet the data shows that the number of patients receiving permits for referrals to hospitals in Israel – or the PA or Jordan – increased by 45 percent from 4,932 in 2006 to 7,176 in 2007, and continued to increase in the first six months of 2008. These trends occurred despite a decline in entry approval rates, mostly because of security reasons.
  • The facts are that Israel has provided ever increasing numbers of approvals of permits since the Hamas takeover of Gaza, despite increasing rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population, including mortar and terror attacks directed at the Erez crossing used by patients.
  • At the same time, there have been at least 20 incidents where Palestinians used medical missions to attempt terror attacks.
  • The premise that guides medical ethics is that there should not be even one death from delay, but sometimes the delays were related to problems of availability of beds, and at other times to security concerns. There were cases in which patients’ deaths or complications were attributable to delays. But in other cases, deaths and complications were attributable to efforts to transfer to Israel critically ill or near terminal patients from Gaza whose care was deemed as bothersome or too costly.
  • The longer term solution to the problem of delays associated with referrals is to promote medical capacity-building in Gaza’s hospital and health care systems so that patients should not have to travel elsewhere for critical care.

The mandate of the Rapporteur to the UN Commission on Human Rights has so far been restricted to reporting only on violations of human rights to life, safety, and access to health care of members of one national group, Palestinians, but not members of another group, Israelis. The result is a selective concern with the human rights of one that ignores assaults on the human rights of the other.