8-month-old infant dies in Gaza after PA denies him exit for heart surgery in Israel

June 22, 2020 by TPS
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Omar Yaghi, an eight-month-old infant from the Gaza Strip with a cardiac condition, died on Thursday following a one-month postponement of his scheduled operation at the Sheba Medical Centre in Tel HaShomer, Israel.

Erez Crossing, on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, the entrance point from Gaza into Israel. Gaza, Jul 12, 2015. Photo by Andrew McIntire/TPS

The reason for the delay was the suspension of the activities of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee (PCAC) – the body in charge of coordination civil affairs with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

This suspension was one of the consequences of the PA’s declaration last month of freezing coordination with Israel in response to its plan to declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, as stipulated by the US-formulated Deal of the Century peace plan.

Omar was supposed to leave Gaza for an operation in Sheba on May 24. However, the plan fell through due to the PA’s declaration in May that it was ceasing coordination with Israel. The PCAC – responsible for transferring patients’ requests for travel out of Gaza and coordinating their crossing for medical treatment in Israel and the PA – refused to accept Omar’s family’s request for a travel permit and submit it to the IDF’s District Coordination Office (DCO) at the Erez Crossing.

The family then contacted Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHRI). The NGO resubmitted their application on Omar’s behalf – this time, directly to Israel without passing through the PA.

The new application was accepted, and the surgery was rescheduled to June 21.

However, Omar died three days before the operation that could have saved his life.

Several weeks ago, PHRI warned that hundreds of patients were being denied medical treatment by the PA due to the suspension of the coordination mechanisms, including patients with cancer and other severe conditions in urgent need of lifesaving treatments.

The NGO said it has seen a recent upsurge in the number of patients from the Gaza Strip and the PA appealing to it for help in obtaining medical treatment unavailable to them. These patients have described how the PA agencies responsible for coordinating their travel with the Israeli authorities stopped transferring their application for exit permits on medical grounds.

In their communications to PHRI the patients have argued that the PA Ministry of Health refuses to schedule appointments for them in Israeli hospitals and to provide the necessary financial cover.

Last week, human rights organizations appealed to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and head of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Kamil Abu Rukun, demanding that they ensure that patients who need to leave Gaza can do so independently of the PA’s coordination mechanisms.

The NGOs demand that Israel put in place a new mechanism to enable Gazans to submit such applications without the mediation of the PCAC and that the details of the new mechanism be made public.

TPS

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