Three justices ruled unanimously that Yousef Al-Kronz, who already had one leg amputated last week after being shot by Israeli troops, must be allowed to leave Gaza for Ramallah hospital to save remaining leg.
The Israeli Supreme Court ruled today, 16 April 2018, that a Palestinian youth shot and wounded by Israeli troops during the 30 March protests, who has already lost one leg to amputation, must be permitted to leave the Gaza Strip for urgent medical care in Ramallah to save his remaining leg.
The three justices ruled unanimously and accepted a petition filed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights on 8 April 2018 that demanded that the Defense Ministry allow 20-year-old Yousef Al-Kronz to travel from Gaza to the West Bank for urgent medical care after he was wounded by Israeli military gunfire during a Land Day protest march on 30 March 2018.
The court ruled that Al-Kronz 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 thus he must be permitted to enter immediately.
This case marks the first time the Israeli Supreme Court has issued a ruling to allow a resident of Gaza to transfer to the West Bank via the Erez crossing.
During court deliberations yesterday, Adalah Attorneys Sawsan Zaher and Hassan Jabareen emphasized that the Israeli military's policy of denying Gaza residents access to life-saving medical treatment in the West Bank simply because they participated in a protest is punitive and vindictive.
Adalah attorneys also stressed that the state failed to consider the concrete humanitarian circumstances of Yousef Al-Kronz's case when arguing to deny his passage from Gaza, despite admitting that his medical condition did justify urgent medical care in the West Bank.
Justices Uri Shoham, Yael Wilner, George Karra ruled that the state was "unable – in response to our request – to point out even one case in the past in which it prevented passage in similar circumstances for the purpose of receiving medical treatment…"
Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, which had no means to rescue the wounded youth’s legs, and the leg of 17-year-old Mohammed Al-‘Ajouri who was similarly wounded by Israeli forces, referred them to Al Istishari Hospital on 1 April 2018 and a request to exit Gaza and transfer to Ramallah, West Bank was submitted to the Israeli military's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) that same day. However, COGAT did not respond and Adalah and Al Mezan sent an urgent letter on 4 April requesting authorization for immediate passage for the wounded men from Gaza to Ramallah. On 5 April, Adalah was informed that COGAT refused the wounded men’s requests.
The Supreme Court delayed its decision on the Adalah-Al Mezan petition filed 8 April and – despite the urgent nature of the situation – allowed the state attorneys three days to respond.
As a result of the delays imposed by the Israeli military and the court, Gaza doctors amputated the legs of Al-Kronz and Al-'Ajouri, and Al-Kronz was in danger of losing his second leg. The court decision does not acknowledge the necessary amputation of both young men's legs during the process of trying to get a permit to leave Gaza for urgent critical care.
During the court hearings, state representatives made clear that Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had decided to prevent the evacuation for urgent medical care of wounded Gazans who had participated in protests and sit-in demonstrations – even at the cost of amputation.
Al Mezan Director Mr. Issam Younis, speaking on behalf of both Adalah and Al Mezan, stated in response to today’s ruling:
"It is a very serious concern that an emergency humanitarian decision, such as evacuating seriously wounded individuals in order to prevent the amputation of their legs, was subject to so many different authorities and hearings until it was authorized. 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. 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."
Case citation: HCJ 2777/18, Yousef Al-Kronz v. Commander of Israeli forces in Gaza (decision delivered 16 April 2018)