In March, B’Tselem reported that 19-month-old Fatimah al-Masri died from a cardiological condition after repeated applications to the Israeli authorities for permission to exit Gaza for essential medical treatment in a hospital in East Jerusalem were unsuccessful, remaining “under review” for months.A few months later, in August, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights reported that a six-year-old child, Farouq Mohammed Abu Naja, with a developmental regression condition, died after he was twice denied access to medical care at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protects the fundamental rights to life and to health. However, these basic rights are being systematically violated in Gaza, with recurring documented examples of children being effectively deprived of access to urgent medical care, with grave consequences, due to Israel’s implementation of its closure policy.
At the end of May, B’Tselem reported that three sisters, aged 10, 15 and 21 were still waiting to be allowed to exit Gaza for medical treatment, following repeated delays and denials of permission to leave. The report states that the sisters have conditions that cause irreversible kidney damage and that going without medical treatment is dangerous. As the healthcare system in Gaza cannot provide the medical treatment they need, the sisters have to travel to hospitals in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) to receive it.
Since August 2021, the two elder sisters have been referred for treatment at hospitals in East Jerusalem. They repeatedly applied to the Israeli authorities for permits but have not received them. In 2022, the youngest sister applied for a permit for an appointment at an East Jerusalem hospital. The first request for a permit in her name went unanswered. Following the second request, she was informed that she would be permitted to enter Israel, but her mother would not be allowed to go with her. The nature of the condition precludes travel alone.
These deeply tragic cases are emblematic of the grave consequences that foreseeably ensue when a policy is implemented to severely deprive fundamental rights on a widespread basis. The closure of Gaza must end.