World Health Organization Reports Israel’s Obstruction of Health Care in Palestine
The World Health Organization has warned of the increasing obstacles imposed by Israel to health care in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
The report, titled “The Right to Health,” found a significant number of cases in the years 2019-2021 in which security restrictions delayed or prevented Palestinians in the two separate areas from receiving medical care.
It called on Israel to “end the arbitrary delays and denial of permits to Palestinian patients” throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Only 65% of patients’ requests in Gaza to leave the coastal enclave have been approved by Israel, the World Health Organization said, while ambulances face an average wait time of 68 minutes at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza.
The Coordination Committee of the Israeli Defense Ministry, which oversees civilian affairs in the occupied territories, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War in 1967. Gaza is under an Israeli blockade that strictly controls the passage of people and goods.
Israel applies a strict permit regime for Palestinians seeking to leave the territories to access health care.
The World Health Organization expressed concern about 385 interrogations by Israeli security forces of patients and their companions who left the Gaza Strip in the reporting period.
The report said that ambulances often cannot pass checkpoints, and thus the transfer of patients from Palestinian ambulances to Israeli ambulances can be delayed.
It also called on Israel to “facilitate the entry of all essential medicines and medical supplies” into the impoverished Gaza Strip.
Israel prohibits the transfer of goods into Gaza that it deems could be used for military purposes, as part of a blockade it has imposed since Hamas took power in 2007.
A large number of medical supplies, such as spare parts for x-ray machines and CT scanners, fall into the dual-use category, causing a shortage in hospitals in Gaza.
About 2.9 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and about 2.3 million in Gaza.
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