The Daily Star
March 27, 2008 - 6:51pm

The Israeli military should allow cancer patient Karima Abu Dalal to leave the Gaza Strip to obtain desperately needed medical care in Israel, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. "Karima Abu Dalal's life now hangs in the balance because of the Israeli Army's failure to allow her a permit to leave Gaza to obtain specialist cancer treatment not available there," the rights group said in a statement. "The Israeli authorities should immediately allow her to access the treatment she needs."

More than 40 people are reported to have died in the Gaza Strip in recent months because they were refused passage out of the area in order to obtain urgent medical treatment not available there.

Abu Dalal, 34, suffers from Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer which can be cured if appropriate treatment is provided in time. Her condition has deteriorated recently and she now has difficulty breathing and walking. Her doctors in Gaza consider that her survival depends on her being removed urgently to Israel for treatment at an advanced medical center.

Since the Israeli authorities tightened their blockade on the Gaza Strip in June 2007, closing the border between Gaza and Egypt, each of the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants has to obtain the permission of the Israeli military authorities to leave the Gaza Strip for Israel. This is almost always refused. While some exceptions are made, the Israeli military has denied permits for scores of ill patients, saying they cannot allow them to leave the Gaza Strip because of unspecified "security" reasons.

Medical facilities in Gaza lack the specialized staff and equipment to treat a range of conditions. Hospitals and medical facilities are also increasingly short of drugs, supplies and medical equipment.

Despite repeated requests since last November, the Israeli Army has refused to issue a permit allowing Abu Dalal to leave Gaza for medical treatment. A request made to the Israeli Army last Sunday is still awaiting a response.

"Denying passage to patients in desperate need of medical care serves no legitimate security purpose, as all patients undergo strict security checks at the crossing, and are generally gravely ill," said Amnesty International. "Israel, as the occupying power, is responsible for the right to health and access to health care for Karima Abu Dalal and all 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip."

Abu Dalal has been treated at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, but doctors say she now needs care at an advanced medical center in Israel if she is to have any chance of survival.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017