What might be the justification for denying children, or indeed adults, access to vital medical treatment? ‘Denied’ here meaning what it says: a decision, a calculated act, an expression of policy, a rule formulated, then enacted.
The purpose? What could that be? How come that the rationally impossible task of squaring a circle is here achieved? The dictum ‘Do no harm’ gone rogue, turned on its head, transmuted now into its antithesis: ‘Do harm’.
And the harm is done well. The objective achieved.
So it is that Israel, from the bottomless well of its disdain for Palestinian life, refuses what is totally in its power to grant, and that with no fear of detriment to itself: to grant medical treatment permits allowing Gazans access to necessary, often urgent, treatment in Israeli or the hospitals of other countries. This need to seek medical aid outside Gaza caused and exacerbated by Israel’s refusal to allow the importation into Gaza of medical equipment and key medicines. The Electronic Intifada reports:
Physicians for Human Rights Israel recently found that the number of children denied treatment had nearly doubled.
According to the organization, in 2020, 17 percent of children’s requests to leave the Gaza Strip for the purpose of receiving medical care not available in the Gaza Strip were delayed or refused.
In the first six months of 2021, this rate had nearly doubled to 32 per cent, according to calculations made by PHRI.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 155 out of a total 481 Palestinians under the age of 18 seeking to cross the Erez checkpoint for treatment in July this year were either refused or delayed.
Among 0-3 year olds, 30 children of 136 were rejected or delayed in seeking treatment.Such obstructions can prove fatal: Three children have died so far this year after permits to leave Gaza for medical treatment were denied or delayed, the human rights group Al Mezan has reported
In summary, again from the Electronic Intifada:
Gaza’s health sector is in serious disarray as a direct result of Israel’s 15-year blockade and its tight restrictions on people and goods entering and leaving the coastal strip of land…Gaza’s health ministry, for example, has been unable to import medical devices and parts for radiology and imaging services, such as CT, PET and x-ray scanning machines. In 2021, the West Bank Palestinian Authority submitted 120 requests for the entry of such equipment, of which only 30 – or 25 percent – were approved by February 2022.
Israel’s bases its restrictions on what it deems to be its security needs, its all-purpose justification for maintaining constant pressure on Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories. But Gaza is given especial attention by Israel, this for overtly political purposes. The reasons include: aiming to fuel the divide and rivalry between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas; inflicting what is in fact the collective punishment on all residents of Gaza in the hope this will alienate the population from Hamas.
It is worth recalling here that Hamas in 2006 won the parliamentary elections, to the detriment of Israel’s – and effectively the USA, EU and UK’s – proxy occupation enforcer, President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. Israel and its western allies could not stomach this democratic florescence since the result did not accord with their wished-for outcome. And so Israel imposed the now fifteen year old siege on Gaza, the proximate cause of the dearth of medical equipment and medicine – and so much more – available in this coastal strip.
Consider: What might now be the situation had democratic expression not been anathematised and overturned?
Bottomless well of disdain
I referred above to Israel’s ‘bottomless well of disdain for Palestinian life’, an attitude exemplified at the highest reaches of Israeli governance. From the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU):
In early 2006, Dov Weisglass, then a senior advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, explained that Israeli policy was designed “to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” In 2012 it was revealed that in early 2008 Israeli authorities drew up a document calculating the minimum caloric intake necessary for Palestinians to avoid malnutrition so Israel could limit the amount of foodstuffs allowed into Gaza without causing outright starvation.
This devilish form of computation is nothing but raw, controlled, incremental violence, aimed at the debilitation of Gaza’s population, but not to kill (but of course such measures will).
Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)
And yet, we are told that campaigning for non-violent BDS as a means to pressurise Israel to cease its Occupation and its racist practices is to be legislated against here in the UK. Another circle squared: a ‘democracy’ stifling free expression.