Denied life-saving treatment outside Gaza: A mother tells of her child’s tragic death

Last year the rate of Israel’s permit approvals for patients needing to exit Gaza for medical treatment via the Erez crossing reached a record low. One third of patients were either denied or delayed, causing interruptions to care and endangering the recovery of Palestinian patients.

“We lost our son while he was waiting for a permit to be treated at Tel Hashomer Hospital. The delay in issuing him the permit and getting him treatment cut his life short, and stole him away from us and his friends.”

This was tragically the case for 17-year-old Ahmed Hasan Shubeir, who died in January after being denied a permit to exit Gaza to receive lifesaving medical treatment.

Ahmed Shubeir’s mother, Amal, spoke to rights organisation, B’Tselem, about Israel’s refusal to allow her son to receive lifesaving surgery.

Ahmed was born in 1999. A week after he was born, a neighbour of ours who is a cardiologist came over to our house to congratulate us. She told us to go to hospital because she saw Ahmad’s skin had a blueish tinge. At A-Naser Children’s Hospital, they found that Ahmad had congenital defects.”

Amal told B’Tselem that throughout her son’s life Ahmed regularly had to travel from Gaza to East Jerusalem and Israel to receive specialist medical treatment. Since September 2016, however, her family were denied travel permits to allow Ahmed to leave Gaza.

“Ahmed’s condition was getting worse and he was hospitalised every few days. We knew his life was in danger and couldn’t do a thing.

"Ahmed got worse and we didn’t leave his bedside. We felt terribly sad and helpless and kept crying. In the early hours of 14 January 2017, Ahmad passed away.

"He was a top student and had hoped to get better, live pain free, and finish his studies. Because he’d suffered so much, Ahmad had hoped to study medicine and become a cardiologist, so he could help other patients and spare them what he had suffered.

"We lost our son while he was waiting for a permit to be treated at Tel Hashomer Hospital. The delay in issuing him the permit and getting him treatment cut his life short, and stole him away from us and his friends.”

The right to freedom of movement is an essential component of the right to health, especially for people in Gaza, where the health sector has been damaged by a decade of blockade and closure and repeated military offensives.  Despite this, restrictions on patients increased again this year, with more than half of all patients being denied or delayed in January, according to data from the World Health Organization.

You can read our latest report and infographics on how the occupation undermines the accessibility of healthcare here.

Please support our campaign and demand health and dignity for Palestinians, including the right to access healthcare which Ahmed was so tragically denied. 

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To read Amal’s full testimony, click here.