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Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and human rights organizations in a joint position paper on the decision to stop covering Palestinian's medical care in Israel

News and Press Release
Originally published
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR - IL), The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Gisha - Legel Center For Freedom of Movement and B'Tselem Protest Violations of the Rights of Palestinian Patients

Following the decision of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to stop all financial coverage for the medical treatments of Palestinian patients in Israeli hospitals, and given the policy of the Government of Israel (GOI) to insist on conditioning access to healthcare for Palestinians in Israel in financial coverage from the Palestinian Authority (PA), PHR-IL, PCHR, Gisha and B'Tselem protest the use of Palestinian patients as political tools by both the PA and the GOI.

In January 2009, after the end of the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, the PA cancelled financial coverage for all medical care for Palestinians in Israeli hospitals, including coverage for chronically ill Palestinian patients, and those in need of complex care that is not available in other tertiary medical centers in the region.

The result has been that an estimation of hundreds of Palestinian patients who were in the middle of long-term treatment regimes in Israel, including cancer patients in need of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and bone marrow transplantation, found their treatments interrupted with no alternatives.

We, human rights organizations in Israel and Palestine, regard Israel as an Occupying Power who bears overall responsibility for the protection of the right to health of the Palestinian, including free access to health services in the territories it occupies.

In agreeing to act as provider of healthcare services to the Palestinian population, the PA (Ramallah) took upon itself responsibility for that population. However, the ability of the PA in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) to supply appropriate health care services is fundamentally restricted by Israel as an Occupying Power.

The exploitation of the healthcare system in general and of seriously ill patients in particular, for political and financial aims, is a grave violation of the principles of medical ethics and of human rights.

PHR-IL, PCHR, Gisha and B'Tselem call:

The Government of Israel:

To recognize its ultimate responsibility as an Occupying Power for the healthcare of the population under its control, and to ensure that all residents of the OPT have access to appropriate healthcare regardless of financial coverage.

The Palestinian Authority:

To renew its financial coverage for all Palestinian patients who need to complete their medical treatment in Israel, at least until an appropriate and accessible new health care provider can be found. The PA has the right to decide where it will refer its patients; however, the rights of all these patients to continuity of heath care must not be violated.

For further information, please contact Ran Yaron, Director of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, PHR-IL, Tel +972-54-7577696, e-mail address ranyaron@phr.org.il.