Two young Palestinian men are in danger of losing their legs if they remain in Gaza hospital; this constitutes a violation of their right to life and health, and is a violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Israel is refusing to let two young Palestinian men—who were seriously wounded by Israeli military gunfire as unarmed protesters during demonstrations in Gaza—travel to the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank for urgent medical care.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court yesterday, 8 April 2018, demanding Israel let the two seriously wounded young men leave the Gaza Strip.
The two men—Yousef Karnaz, aged 20, and Mohammad Al-‘Ajouri, aged 17, both from Gaza—were wounded when Israeli troops fired on them during the 30 March 2018 Land Day protests.
Both young men, currently hospitalized at Shifa Hospital in Gaza are in critical condition and in immediate danger of losing their legs as a result of their gunshot wounds.
Since Shifa hospital does not have the required medical tools to save their legs, it referred both men to Al Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah on 1 April 2018 and a request to exit Gaza and transfer to Ramallah was submitted to the Israeli military’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) that same day.
However, COGAT did not respond and Adalah and Al Mezan sent an urgent letter on 4 April requesting authorization for their immediate passage from Gaza to Ramallah. On 5 April, Adalah was informed that COGAT refused the patients’ requests.
Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher wrote in the Supreme Court petition that “there is no substantive justification for rejecting the request of the two petitioners, who are both confined to the ICU in critical condition. The rejection of their request is an expression of indifference to the amputation of their legs.”
Adalah and Al Mezan stressed that because Israel controls the Gaza border crossings, it is responsible for allowing wounded patients to leave Gaza for transfer to the Ramallah hospital.
Continued Israeli refusal to allow Karnaz and Al-‘Ajouri access to urgent medical care constitutes a violation of their right to life and health and is a violation of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and Israeli constitutional law anchored in Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.
Hospitals in Gaza are struggling to deal with upwards of 1,990 wounded by Israeli snipers, live ammunition, tear gas from drones, among other kinds of excessive force. Doctors report they are running out of medicine and supplies to treat patients.
Need for emergency protocol
On 1 April 2018, Adalah and Al Mezan sent an urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Chief Military Advocate General (MAG) Sharon Afek, and COGAT Commander Major General Yoav Mordechai, demanding that they:
- act to allow seriously wounded Gaza residents access to emergency medical care in Israel or passage to the West Bank/East Jerusalem;
- to establish a special emergency procedure designed to facilitate immediate entry for wounded Gazans to access urgent medical care in Israel, the occupied West Bank, or beyond.
The letter was written in response to three cases of seriously wounded Gazans seeking medical care outside of Gaza who were denied entry by COGAT.
“The Israeli authorities must not use the guise of security to delay the medical transfer of persons who have been incapacitated due to serious injury and who do not pose a security threat. The injured must be given a chance to live. Without appropriate care available in Gaza, due largely to the illegal closure that maintains the movement restrictions on all patients, this is ultimately an issue of the fundamental right to life,” said Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan. “Incontrovertibly, all of Gaza’s patients hold the basic human right of access to medical care.”
The human rights organizations’ stressed in the letter that, in urgent circumstances, it is not feasible to operate according to Israel’s standard procedures for patients, which would incur a delay ranging from two days to months, and that immediate exit from Gaza must be permitted in order for wounded to receive medical care.
“These humanitarian cases require the immediate entry of wounded without delay and any additional technical bureaucracy delaying their entry is prohibited and constitutes a violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law, critically concerning the rights to life and health, and under international humanitarian law. Preventing the entry for medical care of individuals wounded by Israeli military gunfire is a violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power – and a violation of both international and Israeli law,” Attorney Zaher wrote in the letter.