Medical care halted by Israeli blockade

Updated: 2015-07-18 08:07

By Xinhua in Gaza(China Daily)

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The suffering of Wa'el Erief's family in Gaza continues to mount as they can do nothing but watch his health deteriorate day by day, unable to take him to a hospital abroad for treatment.

The main reason preventing the family from taking the 23-year-old brain cancer patient to a hospital in Israel or abroad for urgent chemotherapy is the Israeli blockade imposed on the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Six months ago, the family discovered Wa'el's brain cancer.

"My health is deteriorating day after day without an opportunity to travel abroad for treatment. I don't want to travel for fun; I just want to travel to save my life," he said, sounding tired.

Doctors have told the family that it is very difficult for Wa' el to travel long distances.

"The doctors told us that it is too late to take me abroad now," Wa'el said.

Wa'el's father died of cancer in 2008 without being able to travel for medical therapy. Wa'el said that local and foreign physicians told him that he needed urgent treatment, but the only thing he can do is to wait.

Israel imposed a tight blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Hamas violently took control of the enclave. Since then, few patients can travel to hospitals in Israel. Egypt has also closed the main Gaza border crossing point of Rafah in the past few years.

The Gaza Health Ministry said there are hundreds of patients waiting for the border crossings to open. Otherwise, they will face death due to the severe shortage of medical aid in hospitals and clinics across the coastal enclave.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a Gaza Health Ministry spokesman, said that the closures of crossings by both Israel and Egypt "negatively influence patients who are in bad need of various kinds of medical therapies - mainly cancer and kidney patients".

According to the ministry, about 3,500 Gaza patients are fighting death due to restrictions imposed on their movement, which also excludes medical delegations and doctors from the strip.

Palestinian officials in charge of borders and crossings in Gaza said earlier that there are thousands of Palestinians who cannot travel through the Erez crossing with Israel and have to wait to travel through the Rafah crossing into Egypt. They are not only patients, but students, merchants and families who have relatives abroad.

(China Daily 07/18/2015 page8)