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29 Nov, 2014

Gaza Patients Need Israeli Approval to Cross Border to Egypt for Treatment

JERUSALEM, November 27, 2014 – (WAFA) – The patient applications that were granted approval for Gazans by Israeli occupation authorities to cross Erez crossing for medical treatment dropped by 5.78%, reported the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“In October, the total number of permit applications to cross Erez (which included casualty patients as well as normal referral patients) was 1,327, accounting for 79.5% of the pre-conflict monthly average of 1,670 applications,” reported OCHA in the monthly report about the referral of patients from the Gaza Strip.

OCHA also reported in this regard that out of the total number of patient permit applications submitted in October to cross Erez, only 1038 (78.22%) were approved, a drop from the average approval rate for the first half of 2014 of 84%.

This indicates that 76 applicants (5.73%) were denied access, the highest number denied in one month since August 2010 when 87 patients were denied. 213 (16.05%) did not receive an answer in time for their hospital appointments and therefore suffered delay in health care.

The report touched upon detention of patients and patient companions at Erez crossing, access restrictions on both Rafah and Erez crossings and the decline in referrals for casualty and regular patients.

According to the report, the Health Ministry issued 1,188 referrals for patients in Gaza in October, 20% less than the previous month and 36% less than the monthly average of 1,849 for the first half of 2014. A drop was reported in the number of referrals to every destination, except for Israel. Referrals were still below the pre-war levels of June 2014 for every destination except Egypt.

The report showed that 1,042, accounting for 87.7% of the total number of October referrals, were referred to health facilities outside Gaza. 837 patients (70.5%) required permits from Israeli authorities to exit through Erez crossing and 205 required approval from Egypt to exit through Rafah.

The report also showed that children (0-17 years old) and elderly patients (over 60 years) constituted 27.52% and 17.93% respectively of referred patients, while female referral patients constituted 40.4% of the total.

Regarding access via Rafah crossing, OCHA reported that the terminal was opened by the Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases on 19 days in October, from 10:00 to 16:00 and that it has been completely closed since Oct. 25 following the northern Sinai attack and that till the end of October, the terminal was closed for 186 days in 2014 (61% of days).

“During the 19 open days in October, 6,800 persons attempted to cross from Gaza to Egypt, including 879 for medical reasons. Egyptian authorities refused access for 898 (13.2%) travelers and returned them to Gaza. The remaining 5,902 (86.8%) were primarily people holding Egyptian or foreign passports or legal residency abroad,” said OCHA.

The report showed that two medical delegations were allowed access into Gaza from Egypt, one donated ambulance entered Gaza, but no medical shipments entered.

With regard to Erez crossing, OCHA reported that 15 applicants were requested to attend a security interrogation as a prerequisite to process their applications and that Of the 9 casualty patients with complicated injuries who were referred to hospitals outside of Gaza, only 5 were approved permits to cross Erez in October, 2 were denied, 2 were delayed and almost 200 casualty patients are still on waiting lists pending completion of required medical and travel documentation.

In terms of referral patients denied medical care via Erez, OCHA reported that 76 patients, were denied permits to access through Erez, including 17 children and 4 persons over 60 years and that 54 patients waited 1-7 days, 16 waited 8-14 days, 4 waited 15-30 and 2 patients waited more than 30 days before their applications were denied.

In terms of delayed care, OCHA reported that 213 patient applicants, including 57 children and 26 patients over the age of 60, received no response to their applications and consequently lost their hospital appointments.

In terms of patient detentions at Erez, OCHA reported that one patient was arrested on October 27 and a companion was detained from the crossing for 11 days and then released.