GAZA CITY (DNA) – More than 50 Palestinians died waiting for Israeli visas to travel for medical treatment last year, with only around half of all applications granted, new figures showed Tuesday. A total of 54 Palestinians died awaiting permits in 2017, the World Health Organization said, in what rights activists called an overly bureaucratic system which deprives Palestinians of their right to healthcare. The WHO said it did not have a directly comparable figure for 2016, but Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said it had recorded only a couple per annum in previous years.
Israel argues rigorous checks are necessary for security reasons for those coming from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave ruled by its Islamist enemy Hamas.
Gazans require Israeli permits to leave the enclave and travel to Jerusalem or the West Bank for treatment which the Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognised Palestinian government, pays for.
High-quality medical care for conditions such as cancer is not possible in Gaza, largely due to a shortage of facilities and Israel s restrictions on imports of key medical technology it argues could be seized by Hamas for military purposes.