Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

Palestinian granted posthumous entry to Israel

By Ali Waked

Did red tape contribute to a Palestinian patient`s death? The family members of Gaza Strip resident Mahmoud abu-Amro claimed Sunday that the military`s procrastination in giving the 58-year-old cancer patient the necessary clearance to receive treatment in Israel was the direct cause of his death.

Abu-Amro had been a patient of the Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv for the past two years, undergoing his last session in February of 2008. According to his family, when he tried to enter Israel for treatment through Erez crossing in March, he was refused passage due to security concerns.

Abu-Amro reportedly arrived at the crossing with two medical briefs, written by Dr. Michal Lotem, an oncologist at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem and Dr. Ella Evron an oncologist at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, citing he was in need of urgent medical care.

`The patient is suffering from a terminal disease. The treatment can both prolong his life and ease his suffering… it has a basic humanitarian purpose,` wrote Dr. Lotem.

Risky business

The family petitioned the Israeli authorities several times, via the Physicians for Human Rights association, requesting their patriarch be allowed entry to Israel for treatment.

Abu-Amro even met with a Shin Bet officer at Erez crossing, where he was told – according to his son, Dr. Salman abu-Amro – that one of his sons `was growing a beard and praying in a mosque, and that he should stand up against Hamas.`

`Yes, my brother is praying and he has a beard – as he has had for the past few years – but he has never been affiliated with any organization and it has never stopped my father from getting treatments in Israel before.

`How can my brother having a beard turn into the kind of security risk that would prevent my father form getting treatment?` Salman wondered.

His father, he added, was instructed to order his son to stop visiting the mosque, `but as for speaking against Hamas, my father told (the officer) that if the United States and Israel have not been able to overpower Hamas, it is unlikely that a 58-year-old cancer patient could help them.`

`Inhumane approach`

Following a Physicians for Human Rights and several Arab Knesset members` plea on abu-Amro`s behalf, the Shin Bet and the IDF eventually granted him and two other patient entry to Israel. The three were scheduled to enter the country last week, but abu-Amro died several days before arriving at the Sourasky Medical Center.

According to his son, days after abu-Amro`s death, the family was notified that the he would be able to enter Israel earlier than planned. `They only did it to look good for the human rights groups, but I`m sure they agreed to push up the date only because they knew my father was already dead.

`We are treated like a bunch pf papers, like people who have no feelings,` said Salman. `The Israeli authorities` approach in inhumane,` he added, saying he knows of at least three more patients who died because they were denied entry to Israel for treatment.

Hadas Ziv, head of Physicians for Human Rights, said that `the security forces deny patients entry for treatment as a default measure, citing security concerns. Now more then ever, we need the public and the politicians to get involved in these cases in order to facilitate the patients.`

Meretz-Yahad Chairman Chaim Oron added that `it is impossible to have a situation in which the Defense Ministry`s bureaucracy claims lives. I urge Defense Minister Ehud Barak to elasticize patients` criteria and allow those in need to get treatment.`



  1. Jack in FL said,

    October 20, 2008 at 15:51

    Disgusting. Israel’s image is getting worse by the day though, and this can only be a good thing. Their deplorable treatment of their own Arab & Muslim citizens, as well as the Palestinians, is awakening the world to what the phrase “the chosen people” means to that culture. Hint: it’s got nothing to do with morality.

  2. October 21, 2008 at 04:17

    These are the types of stories that grieve me the most: on the one side you see the most vicious side of Zionism manifesting itself as it causes the most innocent of civilians to die with impunity while on the other side of the equation there are equally caring Jewish doctors and other humanitarian-minded Israeli citizens who are genuinely trying to help these people get to the medical treatment that they not only need, but deserve – access to adequate health care for all people should be, in this day and age, considered a fundamental right – not only something that is granted to a privileged few who happen to be living on the right side of the fence (formerly the tracks).

    When one considers that it was Jewish doctors treating this sick man from Gaza in a Jewish hospital, following the precept of their Hippocratic oath to “First do no harm” there certainly seems to be a great amount that the State could learn from the medical community.

    In most places a doctor is not entitled to refuse to treat a patient because they do not like them – for any reason (in the U.S. it is a law – which is why the man who shot President Lincoln was able to be treated – though his doctor was tried for treason … ooops). Doctors, by their oath to provide care to all who require their services, find themselves in the unenviable position of being able to act in a morally superior manner without the benefit of morals actually entering into the situation. Regardless of their feelings in the matter, they must treat those who need the treatment. Israel has found a way to circumvent this responsibility by preventing the patients from getting to the medical centres where the health care providers happen to work their medical miracles.

    This is a despicable tactic that Israel should be ashamed of employing, as it has with such regularity, and for which United Nation forces should be placed at all entrance points to ensure that these situations are not allowed to be repeated. It is not only a crime against humanity, it is a crime against basic decency that all of us with a conscience should be outraged at knowing … and now that we know, now that we are aware of this situation, we are accountable to do something with it – to try and remedy this abomination.

    Why not contact the International Red Cross, the International Red Crescent, Amnesty International and other organizations that work on issues like this and inform them of this tragic and ongoing attempt by Israel to use their military control over the occupied territories as a means of exerting psychological terrorism over the population, by making families watch their loved ones die before their very eyes while the medical care is available … a stones throw away.

    It is true when they say that life is not fair, but at the same time there has to be some small chance for someone to have even the slightest opportunity to escape the clutches of the crushing poverty that consumes their lives; without this hope people cannot find a reason to continue and only exist, they no longer live in the truest sense of the word. Israel has managed to kill yet another generation of Palestinians – are we going to watch them do this to another after this one?

    Spread the message – take up the challenge and remind people that this is something that can be changed – the will of the people is subject to those who live and work in Israel and there are those who want to help these Palestinians, recognizing that they are no threat to Israel. With enough people seeing things this way it will be possible to turn public opinion around to the point that the guards at the border crossings will be escorting these patients across, helping them as much as possible rather than throwing roadblocks up in their path.

    CrazyComposer, On the way to the Sand Man’s Domain …

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