The High Court ruled on Monday that a Palestinian who was wounded in border clashes with IDF soldiers and had his right leg amputated must be permitted to travel to the West Bank for treatment to save his other leg.
The Adalah and Al Mezan organizations appealed to the court on behalf of Yousef Karnaz, 20, and Mohammad Al-Ajouri, 17, who were both shot and wounded when tens of thousands of Gazans converged near the border with Israel on March 30, for the first in a series of planned protests that led to bloody confrontations.
The organizations said Gaza doctors did not have the proper equipment to treat the two. The groups filed a petition with Israel’s top court demanding that authorities allow them to exit the Strip to get urgent treatment in a better-equipped hospital in Ramallah to save their legs.
The court ordered that the army allow Karnaz to transfer to a West Bank hospital for treatment on his left leg, which he was also in danger of losing, after his right leg had been amputated in Gaza. It said it was discarding the appeal on behalf of Al-Ajouri because his leg had already been amputated.
The court found that Karnaz posed no security risk and that his medical situation — the possibility of losing his remaining leg — posed a “complete change in the essence of his life,” and that he thus must be permitted to enter immediately.
In its ruling, the court stressed that it was an exceptional case, due to the urgent need for treatment, and would have no bearing on future transfers of patients from Gaza to the West Bank.
The two left-wing NGOs filed the petition on April 8, when both men needed the urgent treatment, but on April 9, the court gave the state three days to respond, forcing Gazan doctors to amputate one of each of the men’s legs.
The appeal to the court came after an earlier request to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli body responsible for coordination with Palestinians, was ignored, the groups said in a statement.
The state had argued that while the men fulfilled the medical criteria required to get approval, they were denied entry, because their injuries “stemmed directly from their participation in the riots.”
“Had such a straightforward decision been made in time — when the original request for evacuation from Gaza was filed over two weeks ago — the amputation of the young men’s legs could have been avoided,” said Al Mezan Director Issam Younis. “The denial of access to urgent medical treatment, a policy of the Israeli closure, is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, the right to health, and the prohibition on cruel and inhuman treatment.”
Israeli soldiers have killed more than 30 Palestinians and wounded thousands since March 30, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry figures, in mass protests that the Palestinians have dubbed the “March of the Return.” Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that several of those killed were its members.
Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations, and attempted attacks. It alleges that Hamas, whose leaders have said the demonstrations are ultimately aimed at erasing the border and liberating Palestine, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.
Last Friday, during the third week of a series of events set to culminate on May 15, at least 10,000 Gazans took part in large-scale demonstrations, with the Israeli military saying protesters hurled an explosive device and firebombs at Israeli troops deployed at the border, as well as making “several attempts” to damage the fence between Israel and Gaza and cross into Israeli territory.