Photo: Yaron Brener
PA red-tape prevents medical care for Palestinians
Palestinians arriving in Israel for medical care encounter Palestinian government's refusal to reimburse Israeli hospitals' expenses, causing delays in treatment. 'We don't really exist as far as Hamas and Fatah are concerned,' patients say

For many Palestinians, the ongoing fighting between Hamas in the Gaza strip and Fatah in the West Bank has created a far more serious problem: The lack of proper medical care.


Palestinian hospitals refer many of their patients to Israeli hospitals, where they can receive better treatment; but in many cases, even those who are able to get the necessary permission to cross over to Israel to receive treatment find themselves being turned down. The reason – the Israeli hospitals can no longer bill the Palestinian government for their treatment.


The hospitals' administrators find themselves – as do the patients' families – going back and forth between Gaza and Ramallah trying to find their way through the bureaucratic maze.


The end result is almost always the same: The Palestinian government in Ramallah makes the necessary monetary arrangements, but only exhausting everyone involved.


PA's indifference

A. and his sister, from Gaza, came to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in order to be treated for cancer.


"The administrator in Gaza thought he could get away with giving her a referral just for a diagnosis. The Israeli staff saw right through that and told us the treatment requires a different kind of coverage.


"The administrator here sent Gaza dozens of faxes every day until Ramallah said they would pay for it… you see the Israeli staff's dedication and concern and on the other hand, the Palestinians' indifference and you can't understand how your own people completely ignore you and you supposed enemy bends over backwards to see that you get everything you need," said A.


Another problem deriving from this situation is that the permits given to the patients immediate family – or anyone else that chooses to accompany them to Israel – are reduced to the hospital's vicinity only. "We literally can't leave the premises," M., a Palestinian who is staying with a sick relative in the Tel Aviv medical center, told Ynet.


"Instead of making this process as quick as possible, they (Hamas and Fatah) take their time in fighting each other…we don't really exist as far as they're concerned. God will avenge all of them for all our suffering," he added.


Aviva Shemer, spokesperson for the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, told Ynet that the hospital "does all it can to allow the Palestinian population access to the best possible medical care. We usually get the Palestinian Authority's full cooperation."



פרסום ראשון: 10.29.07, 08:33
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