Today Al Mezan releases ‘Children in the Gaza Strip's Access to Medical Care’ a factsheet published under the Save the Children UK funded project ‘Child Rights at the Centre: Enhancing National Capacities to Monitor, Document, and Report on Child Rights Issues in the oPt.’ The factsheet documents Israel’s policies towards the Gaza Strip which result in children being denied the right to access proper medical care.
The ongoing siege on Gaza which stops essential medical equipment and drugs from entering and causes sporadic fuel and electricity cuts combined with the closure system which prevents medical professionals from travelling abroad to access advanced training outside Gaza. These policies have resulted in a medical system in Gaza which cannot provide care and procedures for many patients. Children requiring care that is unavailable have to go outside Gaza, usually to hospitals in Israel, Jerusalem or the West Bank (as well as to Egypt and Jordan). In order to access these hospitals children require a permit from the Israeli authorities. The process for acquiring a permit is long and complex and often results in denials. Since January 2008, 4 children have died because their application was denied or took too long to be approved.
Israel also denies children’s access to medical care when it prevents ambulances from accessing the Buffer Zone. Ambulances require prior coordination with the Israeli military authorities before they can access the sick or injured in the Buffer Zone. 173 children have died because ambulances have been denied access to reach them (throughout the Gaza Strip, not just in the Buffer Zone).
The policies outlined in this factsheet result in serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law which Israel, as the Occupying Power in the Gaza Strip, has an obligation to uphold.
“Children in the Gaza Strip are deprived from receiving quality medical treatment and access to procedures that can save their lives. The right to access medical treatment and to enjoy the highest attainable physical and psychological health is one of the Israeli systematic violations of children’s rights in the Gaza Strip,” Samir Zaqout, Al Mezan’s fieldwork coordinator, states. “This has particularly been the case in the last five years since Israel tightened its siege on the Gaza Strip.”
In addition to the polices outlined in this factsheet which directly affect access to medical care Samir Zaqout says that “the Israeli siege has caused a deterioration in the health of children due to increasing poverty levels and diseases among children such as anemia. Israeli military attacks have also injured thousands of children, hundreds of them sustaining permanent physical disabilities.”