Support call for Palestinians' right to travel freely for medical care.

After 12 years of blockade, repeated military offensives, and significant economic deterioration, the health system in Gaza is on the brink of collapse. Shortages of electricity, fuel and essential medicines limit the care available for patients, and many essential treatments – including radiotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment – are completely unavailable.

There are Palestinian hospitals just 50 miles away, in East Jerusalem, that can provide these services. Some services are also available elsewhere in the occupied West Bank or abroad. But for many patients, these nearby hospitals are completely inaccessible.

Exit denied

Israeli authorities control all travel between Gaza and the West Bank. In 39% of cases last year, they either denied Palestinian patients a permit to exit for care, or did not respond to the request on time. This resulted in more than 10,000 missed medical appointments.

It has not always been this way: only a few years ago, in 2012, permits were denied or delayed in only 7% of cases.

Delays to care cause untold uncertainty and anxiety for patients and their families, and endanger lives. In 2017, 54 people are known to have died after being prevented from leaving Gaza for treatment outside.

Families separated

Family members are also often not granted permits to accompany their sick relatives to treatment. Many critically ill newborns and children with life-threatening cancers from Gaza are therefore forced to undergo treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals without a parent by their side. Some are accompanied by distant relatives or strangers, others are simply alone.

Where healthcare is available, it should never be kept just out of reach of patients by an unfair system of permits.

Please help Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) call on the UN Middle East Peace Envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, to urgently work to ensure Palestinians are allowed to freely travel for medical care outside Gaza.

Dear Mr Mladenov,


As you are aware, after 12 years of blockade and closure, repeated military offensives, and significant economic deterioration, the health system in Gaza teeters on the brink of collapse. Shortages of electricity, fuel and essential medicines limit the care available for patients, and many essential treatments – including radiotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment – are completely unavailable.


Though many of these services are present in Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem, elsewhere in the West Bank or abroad, they are only accessible for patients from Gaza if Israel grants them a permit to exit Gaza. In 39% of cases last year, Israel denied Palestinian patients a permit to exit for care or did not respond to the request on time. According to the World Health Organization, this resulted in some 10,000 missed medical appointments.


It was not always so: in 2012, permits were denied or delayed in only 7% of cases.


Such delays and denials to care increase uncertainty, anxiety and suffering for patients and their families. They also endanger lives. In 2017, 54 people are known to have died after being prevented from leaving Gaza for treatment, 46 of whom had cancer.


Family members too are often not granted permits to accompany their sick relatives to treatment. Many critically ill newborns and children with life-threatening cancers from Gaza are forced to undergo treatment in East Jerusalem hospitals without a parent by their side. Some are accompanied by distant relatives or strangers. Some are simply alone.


We, the undersigned, believe that where healthcare is available, it should never be kept out of reach of patients by an unfair system of permits.


Three years ago, then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said "The closure of Gaza suffocates its people … It is a collective punishment for which there must be accountability." This is most true for the sick and wounded in Gaza, denied their right to access healthcare elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad.


We, therefore, call on you to ensure that the rights and needs of Palestinian patients be put at the forefront of the UN's strategy toward Gaza. Greater pressure should be placed on Israel, as the occupying power, and all duty bearers, to allow free movement of patients and their companions to treatment in all areas of the oPt, and to end the restrictive permit regime which hinders access to adequate care. We further call on the UN to urgently redouble its efforts to bring about an end to – and accountability for – Israel's illegal closure of Gaza.


Yours sincerely,


Aimee Shalan


Chief Executive of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

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