Hamas accuses Israel, PA of refusing to grant travel documents to sick Gazans

Gazan Jumana Daoud carries her 7-month-old daughter Maryam at Makassed Hospital in the occupied east Jerusalem al-Quds, February 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Gazan Jumana Daoud carries her 7-month-old daughter Maryam at Makassed Hospital in the occupied east Jerusalem al-Quds, February 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has accused Israel and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) of refusing to grant travel documents to Gazans in need of permission to seek medical treatment outside the besieged coastal enclave.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry’s spokesman, Ashraf al-Qudra, said in Gaza on Tuesday that the number of PA permits granted had decreased hugely in recent months.

“Since the beginning of the year, 11 people, most of them children, have died as a result of refusal of travel permits to them by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority,” media outlets quoted the Hamas spokesman as saying.

In recent days, three children have died in Gaza after failing to receive permits to seek treatment outside, the ministry added.

Yusef Abu Rish, the undersecretary of health at the Gaza Health Ministry, told a press conference that “there is a real fear of more deaths with the ongoing banning of medicine from entering (Gaza) and for the sick travel permits for treatment.”

“The crime of banning children from travelling for treatment is part of a series of crimes against the health sector in Gaza,” Rish added.

A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority’s Health Ministry, however, denied that there had been any change in the policy regarding such health documents.

To leave Gaza and travel through Israel to receive treatment in the occupied West Bank, Gazans must first apply for documents from the Palestinian Authority.

In recent months, President Abbas has been accused of seeking to pressure Hamas by cutting salaries for civil servants and payments for services. Earlier this month, the Israeli regime began reducing electricity supplies to Gaza after the Palestinian Authority stopped paying for it.

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are at loggerheads, and Abbas’ decisions are considered as indirect pressure on Hamas to relinquish the control of Gaza.

Gaza has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.

Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The Israeli war, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians.