Israel has long been blocking the flow of food and medicine into Palestinian territories it has under siege, an inhumane practice that also breaches the most basic laws and international agreements on human rights.
In this research, Israel’s conduct in allowing medicine into Palestinian territories will be compared against the principles of human rights and international law.
Implementing fierce bans against Palestinian citizens
Israel controls all movements of people as well as food and medical items in and out of Palestinian territories all while letting Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and other areas freely cross the border while making sure they never face any kind of shortages in terms of goods and everyday items, a glaring discriminatory practice that runs against the most basic international laws governing human rights.
In Gaza , for example, an Israeli siege of more than a decade that has become possible by neighboring Egypt’s direct assistance, there has long been a severe shortage of food and medicine, putting the lives of more than 80 percent of the enclave’s population of nearly 2 million in grave ddanger.
To put things in perspective, in September 2000, more than 24,000 Gazans crossed the Egyptian border passing each day while the number dropped to only 274 in 2018. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers leaving south of the border fence between the two territories enjoy an abundance of food and medical services while traveling to Egypt and abroad without any problems.
Israeli authorities have also been very strict with granting permissions to Palestinians with special needs, such as major illnesses and physical conditions, to cross the border and access better medical care in Egypt. In 2018, more than 40 percent of such requests by Palestinians were turned down solely on the vague claims by the Israeli authorities that the person was related to the HAMAS paramilitary group, which is also in charge of the government in Gaza.
Israel also blocks most of the construction materials that are headed for Gaza, arguing that it has credible fear the cargo would be instead used by HAMAS to fortify its military facilities rather than providing housing for the people.
Three major Israeli invasions of Gaza have over the past years destroyed large parts of the civilian infrastructure, taking out power plants and leaving around 20,000 people homeless. At the same time, Israel has continued to construct illegal settlements despite heavy international criticism, providing housing for around 700,000 people in the occupied Palestinian lands.
Electricity, drinking water and all kinds of other commodities are also provided to the besieged Palestinian territories at higher rates compared to the Israeli side of the border. This is while international law clearly outlaws such practices unless there is undeniable evidence that such services are entirely used for military purposes.
The so-called Separation Wall, or better known around the world as the Apartheid Wall, which is constructed by the Israeli military and runs over 700 kilometers at the heart of the occupied Palestinian lands is also another stark violation of human rights by the Israeli government.
The wall, aside from its destructive economic, social and environmental effects, limits the movements of ambulances and patients across the land, often decreasing a patient’s chances to access medical services while it still matters.
The hospitals on the Palestinian side of the wall often lack much-needed equipment that are found in almost all Israeli hospitals. While the Palestinian Authority (PA), has its own Ministry of Health, Israel remains in charge of controlling the little budget it operates on and decides what kind of services are allowed to be provided. Doctors practicing on the Palestinian side of the wall also face major barriers in their professional careers and therefore seek to move to Israel or abroad. That’s why the number of specialist doctors is 8 times higher in Israel.
The wall and other physical barriers set up by the Israeli government and ran by the military, also isolate rural areas, making it harder for people in those areas to access medical services. This also means that to access critical services losing precious time at those checkpoints is normal.
This delay get even bigger when patients require oncology and cancer therapy, the kind of services that are not provided in any Palestinian hospitals and they have to cross the borders into Israel to get them. Official reports suggest that ambulances carrying patients usually face delays of 10 or more minutes at the Israeli checkpoints.
Palestinian patients also have a limited choice of medicines. Combined with the worsening economic situation, this means that most of the time the Palestinians don’t often get critical drugs and nutrients necessary for their conditions or general health, a problem that has been specially affecting children and women. Conditions such as acromegaly and behcet have been on the rise among the Palestinian population while b12 vitamin deficiency is also very common.
(End of Part 1)