April 2, 2008

"Avoidable" Gaza Deaths Follow Medical Travel Bans

The World Health Organization said preventable deaths almost doubled in the Gaza Strip between 2006 and 2007, following the Hamas takeover and a corresponding ban by Israel on most cross-border travel.

The number of travel permits denied to sick Gazans seeking medical care in Israel more than quadrupled, from 8.5 percent in December 2006 to 36 percent one year later.

Israel said it was concerned about suicide bombers using health issues as a cover story, while critics said the policy amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinian population for rocket launches against Israel by Hamas militants.

Medical care in Palestinian territories is in decline due to shortages in equipment, pharmaceuticals and trained personnel.

An Israeli defense official told Reuters that tight control of Gaza’s borders has not caused unnecessary deaths, but a WHO spokesman said 100 Gazan patients have died since June after being denied travel permits.

Source:

Sick Gazans die in “‘avoidable tragedies'”
Reuters, April 1, 2008

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