Thursday, April 3, 2008

World Health Organization: Palestinians died because Israel withheld medical access

Go to International Herald-Tribune original
JERUSALEM: The World Health Organization has issued a new report highlighting cases of Palestinians in Gaza who were said to have died because of delays in gaining access to urgent medical treatment in Israel, but Israeli security officials Wednesday rejected the findings.

The report, released Tuesday by the United Nations health authority, said 32 Palestinian residents of Gaza died between October and March because of the Israeli restrictions. In some cases, permits to leave Gaza were late in coming, while other people were denied permits into Israel for security reasons. In five cases, the reason given for the delay was a lack of available hospital beds.

Israel has greatly restricted movement in and out of Gaza, where tertiary healthcare is extremely limited, since the militant Islamic group Hamas took over there last June, but says it makes exceptions for humanitarian cases on a daily basis.

In 2007, more than 7,000 patients were given permits to cross into Israel for treatment - according to both the World Health Organization and the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration, which coordinates movement through the Gaza border crossings - compared with about 4,900 in 2006.


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