Gaza Patients: No Access to Proper Medical Treatment Anywhere

The health care system in the Gaza Strip is severely deficient and cannot fully provide for the needs of the local population. Approximately a year and a half ago, B’Tselem reported on the difficulties of patients in Gaza who go untreated. Little has changed since then. The flaws in the system are due, in part, to neglect over the nearly four decades of Israel’s direct occupation of the Gaza Strip, and to the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip imposed after Hamas came into power in June 2007 – a siege with which Egypt has been cooperating for its own reasons. As part of the siege, Israel limits the import of medical equipment into Gaza. It also imposes restrictions on doctors traveling outside the Gaza Strip to pursue further medical training and specialization.

Wheelchairs at Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza

Wheelchairs at Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza (Photo: Medical Aid for Palestinians)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Gaza’s Ministry of the Interior, Rafah Crossing was open for only 24 days in 2015. On four of those days, it was open only to pilgrims returning from Mecca. In 2015, only 148 Gazan patients were allowed into Egypt for treatment. In comparison, from June 2012 to July 2013, when Rafah Crossing was regularly open, Egypt allowed in for treatment some 4,000 patients a month.

From September 2015 to January 2016, B’Tselem’s field researchers in the Gaza Strip collected testimonies from patients who were referred by their doctors for treatment in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israel or Jordan and submitted requests for permits to enter Israel accordingly, but were denied or received no answer.

Detailed Report by B’Tselem: