PA debunks Hamas cancer libel against Israel

Leading PA doctor rebuts Hamas' latest anti-Israel allegation that Israel behind rising cancer rates in Gaza.

David Rosenberg,

Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Hamas has never shied away from making wild claims against Israel, accusing the Jewish state - for instance, accusing the Israel of employing dolphin spies off the Gaza coast.

But when the Health Ministry in Gaza blamed a rise in cancer rates on Israel, even the Palestinian Authority’s own chief medical researcher balked at the allegation. 

Based on cancer rate statistics released as part of World Cancer Day on February 4th, an article in the Hamas-controlled Falastin newspaper claimed that elevated cancer rates among residents of the Gaza Strip were caused by Israel. The article accused Israel of having used carcinogenic munitions during the August 2014 conflict with Gaza, leading to an unnatural rise in cancer rates in the area. 

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, however, is crying foul. Dr, Jawad Al-Baytar, chief researcher at the PA Ministry of Health rebutted claims made by the Gaza Health Ministry in the Falastin article, remarking to the Wafa news agency that cancer rates in Gaza were actually significantly lower than in Judea and Samaria.

The actual cause of Gaza’s rising cancer rates, he argues, are poor lifestyle choices, citing obesity rates, unhealthy diets, smoking, and lack of exercise. He noted that while 82.2 out of every 100,000 residents of Judea and Samaria were diagnosed with cancer, only 77 of every 100,000 Gaza residents suffered from some form of cancer. 

Dr. Al-Baytar also pointed out that the elderly were disproportionately represented among cancer patients, another sign that the causes were likely natural. Nearly 35% of all cancer cases were among patients over the age of 65, even though that age group makes up less than 3% of the total population.