The 47-year-old Palestinian known as H. apparently suffers from a liver tumor and urgently needs to undergo a biopsy that would enable treatment. Meanwhile, C. is a Palestinian who requires urgent surgery, A. is a 20-year-old Palestinian woman who suffers from cancer and needs to urgently visit a hospital, 16-year-old girl T. suffers from a heart defect and urgently requires catheterization or surgery, 20-year-old L. has cancer and needs radiation and chemotherapy, and 27-year-old A. has a brain tumor and requires urgent treatment.
All these cases were examined by senior Israeli oncologists and cardiologists who ruled that treatment is urgently needed and postponing it endangers the lives of the patients. The State of Israel rejected the requests, arguing that the six are prevented from entering Israel for security reasons. However, after repeated inquires by the Physicians for Human Rights organization, the interference of Knesset members, and petitions by human right groups abroad, the six patients were granted a permit to leave the Strip.
Israel’s actions boost hatred
Do these six severely ill patients constitute a threat to national security or to the security of Israeli citizens? Can the person who signed the entry ban to Israel honestly claim they are dangerous? The fact that they ultimately did receive the permit proves that the denial of entry for security reasons was dishonest, and that this move was merely a way to exert pressure on the Palestinians. This inhumane approach regularly prevents seriously ill Palestinians from receiving the required treatment.
Ever since Hamas’ Gaza Strip takeover we have encountered an increasing number of rejected applications by sick Palestinians. The security establishment is increasingly refusing to approve the entry of patients who are not facing life-threatening diseases but require treatment to improve their condition and prevent suffering.
On many occasions, patients facing life-threatening diseases are also refused entry. The decision to exert pressure on Hamas on the backs of Gaza residents, and particularly the ill and weak, is not only immoral and inhumane. It will also serve to boost the hatred and support for the most radical alternatives.
Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas characterized evil as the inability to take responsibility for the effect of our actions on others. The meaning of evil is to demand the right to life for ourselves but deprive it from others. Is there a better way to describe the obstacles that the State of Israel places before seriously ill people who desperately need treatment?
Dr. Danny Filk is the chairman of Physicians for Human Rights