The Palestinian Authority has reportedly been preventing residents of the Gaza Strip from leaving the coastal enclave for medical care as part of its ongoing power struggle with the Hamas terror group that rules the coastal enclave.
Palestinians seeking to leave the Strip for medical treatment in Israel, Jordan and the West Bank say they have experienced unusual delays in receiving the necessary documents from the PA over the past two months, the Haaretz daily reported Monday.
Boosting the Gazans’ claims, the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel group told Haaretz that data in its possession shows that some 90 percent of Palestinians who requested the permits over the past two months have yet to receive a reply and that only 10 of 120 documents requested on average each day are granted, including for people with terminal diseases who are unable to receive the care they need in Gaza.
The PA denied that it has sought to delay issuing the authorizations, despite a noticeable drop since April from the 2,041 permits issued on average each month last year, according to Haaretz.
A man from the Jabaliya refugee camp, whose 14-year-old daughter suffers from a vascular disease, told Haaretz that his daughter was forced to forgo a scheduled treatment at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital set for June 21 after the PA would not issue her a payment voucher funding her medical care.
“My daughter’s condition is deteriorating to a life-threatening state,” he said. “I go every day to the Health Ministry in Gaza in an effort to get the referral; I’ve tried pulling strings in Ramallah and I don’t know what else to do to get my daughter to her treatment in Israel.”
In addition to the delays in receiving permits for residents of Gaza, the Hamas-run enclave is also suffering a severe shortage of medicine and medical equipment.
In April, Haaretz quoted a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas who said Ramallah was slashing the health care budget for Gaza as part of a series of measures meant to coerce Hamas into relinquishing some control of the Strip, which it seized in 2007, and giving authority back to the PA.
Most notably, the PA has reduced its payments for the electricity provided to Gaza, worsening an already severe power shortage.
Earlier this month, Israeli ministers decided to heed Abbas’s request to slash the amount of electricity provided to Gaza, significantly ramping up tensions with Hamas, which warned the move could lead to an outbreak of violence.
Both Israel and the PA charge that Hamas would have the money to supply Gaza’s power needs if it didn’t expend a large part of its resources on armaments and preparation for future conflict with the Jewish state, with which it has fought three wars and which it avowedly seeks to destroy.