Israeli hospital
Photo: Yaron Brener

Israeli bureaucracy at its best

B. Michael shares story of sick Gaza man waiting for permit to go to Israeli hospital

On more than one occasion I wrote about the stories of sick individuals whose request to leave the Palestinian territories in order to receive life-saving medical treatment has been rejected by the Shin Bet. Despite their serious illness and complete helplessness, they were characterized as a “security risk” and their requests were dismissed.


However, as it turns out, some people do get their requests approved eventually. Here is one such story.


In the past year, 58-year-old Muhammad Abu-Amro was found to suffer from intestinal cancer. The despicable disease spread to other parts of his body. Hopsitals in Gaza are unable to treat such tough cases of cancer. They lack the requested equipment and specialization. Therefore, Muhammad was urgently referred by his doctors to Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, which possesses the appropriate equipment, expertise, and knowledge. That was back in March 2008.


Muhammad submitted, as costmary and required, a request to the proper authorities in order to arrive in Tel Aviv and receive the treatment that may, perhaps, save his life, but could certainly extend it and make it better.


His request was rejected. For security reasons, of course. The Shin Bet ruled that Muhammad, the man and the cancer, constitute a security risk to the state of Israel. Time and again his family submitted the request, and time and again it was dismissed.


Meanwhile, the passage of time and the cancer did their thing. Yet even though the cancer got worst, it appeared that the “security risk” inherent in Muhammad did not shrink. The request kept on being denied. Knesset members made an effort, international sources exerted pressure, the Physicians for Human Rights group pleaded…but nothing helped.


And so, seven months have passed. The cancer kept on eating away at Muhammad, who whose condition kept on deteriorating. Yet the shin Bet insisted: Muhammad won't be allowed in. The man who could barely stand on his feet is still a "security risk."


It seemed that all hope is lost, but then came the big day – October 13th, 2008. Army representatives announced, through the Physicians for Human Rights group, that Muhammad's request had been approved. He is allowed to come out of the Gaza prison, arrive at Ichilov hospital, and receive the required treatment. Who would have believed it? Seven months of pressure and wait finally bore fruit, and the celebration was great.


Only one small detail dampened the festivities: Eight days before that, on October 5th, 2008, Muhammad Abu-Amro passed away. Expired. Died.


And there we have bureaucratic efficiency at its best: Barely a week passed since Muhammad Abu-Amro stopped constituting a "security risk," and he already received the Shin Bet permit to see a doctor. Isn't it exciting?


This is also an important lesson for all other sick people in the Gaza Strip who seek to leave it in order to get medical treatment: You want your requests to be handled quickly and efficiently? Please be kind enough to die quickly. That will really make it easier to approve your request.


פרסום ראשון: 10.25.08, 15:40
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