This morning, over thirty oncology specialists from Israeli hospitals called upon the Ministry of Health and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (CGAT) to allow women cancer patients form the Gaza Strip to travel for urgent and lifesaving treatments in hospitals in Israel and the West Bank.
The signatories include ward directors and senior physicians such as President of Oncology Institute in Sheba Medical Center Prof. Bella Kaufman, Head of the Radiotherapy Department at Beilinson Prof. Eyal Fenig, Director of the Breast Cancer Unit at Assaf HaRofeh Dr. Ella Evron, and Head of the Oncology Department in Assuta Haifa Dr. Abed Agbarya.
The physicians have decided to act given the growing difficulties they have been experiencing over the past year in providing continuous treatment to cancer patients arriving at their clinics from the Gaza Strip. This is due to the tightening of the Israeli exit permit policy with regard to Gazan cancer patients.
According to data we have collected, over the past year medical treatment has been significantly delayed for at least 45 women cancer patients from Gaza. Some were delayed for six months and even more, and their exit was made possible only thanks to PHRI and others' public pressure on the authorities. Today, the exit of fourteen cancer patients from Gaza is prevented by the CGAT at Erez Crossing. Seven of these women have breast cancer, four have thyroid cancer and three others have tumors in their spine, lungs and kidneys.
In their letter, the doctors wrote: “Undoubtedly, the likelihood of cure and the ability to relive the suffering of cancer patients are higher the sooner diagnosis and treatment are provided. On the other hand, there is no doubt that any delay in diagnosis and treatment could lead to the exacerbation of the disease and even death, which are preventable”.
Tomorrow, Monday, June 4, the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, chaired by MK Aida Touma-Suleiman, will convene a special hearing to discuss the situation of women in Gaza under the ongoing closure on the Gaza Strip. The hearing has been initiated by Touma-Suleiman following hundreds of complaints submitted to her office over the past year on the refusal of Israeli authorities to allow freedom of movement for Gazan women for health, studies and work purposes.
Physicians for Human Rights Israel will present the stories of some of the cancer patients we have helped obtain a travel permit to receive treatment.
Mor Efrat Director of Occupied Territories Department, Physicians for Human Rights Israel