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International Community Must Take Moral and Political Stand towards Israel on Gaza Patient Deaths

Barghouthi: Israeli policy of denying medical treatment to Gazans illegal and a moral disgrace

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Zainab Bashir and Yousef Al-Madhoun have become the 116th and 117th Gazans to be added to the long list of patients who have died after Israel delayed or denied their access to essential treatment outside of the Strip. Bashir, of Deir Elbalah town, and Al-Madhoun of Gaza city, died on Sunday of chronic diseases.

"While the health system in the Gaza Strip is collapsing under the weight of Israel’s siege, patients in need of life-saving treatment face an inhuman Israeli policy of delays or denials. In such a context, delaying the access of patients to treatment available outside the Strip is often a matter of life or death, while the complete denial of access is tantamount to a death sentence," said PNI Secretary General Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP. "The unnecessary deaths of 117 patients are tragic proof of this," he added.

Dr. Barghouthi insisted that the issuance of exit permits for patients from Gaza in need of life-saving treatment out of the Strip is a clear-cut case where international law, medical ethics and human decency converge: "Denying access to life-saving medical treatment is a criminal and unacceptable policy," Dr. Barghouthi underlined.

He urged heads of state, political leaders, and diplomats worldwide to take a moral stand on this question, and to put political pressure on the Israeli government to respect international law and save the lives of these Palestinian patients. Dr. Barghouthi concluded “when you know that someone needs medical help or will die, and when you deny access to medical treatment to this person, it is murder. Premeditated murder.”