Court orders Israel to accept Gaza patients

Supreme Court rules defense ministry cannot refuse to allow 5 Gazan women with ties to Hamas to seek treatment in Jerusalem.


Humanitarian aid trucks passing into Gaza
Humanitarian aid trucks passing into Gaza
Flash 90

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the government to allow five critically ill Gazan women to cross into Israel for medical treatment after they were refused over alleged links to Hamas, NGOs
said Monday.

The women were rejected under a policy preventing "first-degree relatives" of the Islamist movement which rules the Gaza Strip from entering Israel, the Israeli rights groups involved in the case said.

The policy aims to pressure Hamas to return the remains of two Israeli soldiers it is believed to be holding, the organisations said.

Most of the five women have cancer, according to the statement issued by the Gisha, Adalah, Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel NGOs

The court's ruling on Sunday said they do not constitute a security risk and that refusing their entry to Israel was illegal because they were in "danger of death".

They have sought treatment at hospitals in eastern Jerusalem that is unavailable in Gaza, the NGOs said.

Israeli authorities had authorized them to cross and travel for treatment in Judea and Samaria or abroad.

But the women said that effective treatment was not available in Judea and Samaria and the cost of care abroad was too expensive.

The original petition was for seven women, but Israel earlier said it had mistakenly identified two as relatives of Hamas members.

The NGOs said the ruling would have wider implications.

"The court rightly dismissed the Israeli defense minister and cabinet's outrageous decision to use patients in critical condition as bargaining chips, and ruled that this policy contradicts the most basic of values," they said.

It condemned the policy as "a new and shameful low in Israel's collective punishment of Gaza residents."

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