By Jesse Bacon
Saturday, a child the same age as my daughter was killed in Gaza. She was not killed by a missile, or a suicide bomber, or any of the other dramatic ways children die in the Middle East. She was killed by an Israeli policy, that the people of Gaza are to be imprisoned as punishment for who the adults voted for. While many children have been killed by this policy, this case sounds particularly horrific. Her family and Physicians for Human Rights tried valiantly to get her admitted into Israel for treatment, to no avail. I can imagine no worse nightmare for a parent, to watch your child dying knowing there is medical care a few miles away that you are not allowed to seek out. The next time someone tells you things aren’t so bad in Gaza any more, or that Israel is not responsible for what goes on there, remember this story. There can be no justification for allowing a sick child to die when you have the means to prevent it.
Nasma Abu Lasheen died on Saturday, October 16, 2010 in Gaza. Israel failed to issue her an urgent entry permit for life-saving medical treatment at Ha-Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel. She was two years old.
Abu Lasheen, a young resident of Gaza diagnosed with Leukemia, was referred for emergency treatment in Israel on October 6, 2010. When requests to the Israeli Army for an entry permit went unanswered for several days, by way of B’tselem, the family contacted Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-Israel) for additional help. That very same day, on October 13, 2010, PHR-Israel contacted the Gaza District Coordination Office (DCO) demanding a permit be issued immediately to the baby and her father to enable their entry into Israel. A military approval was finally granted the next afternoon, October 14, 2010.
Abu Lasheen’s medical condition had been deteriorating rapidly and by the time the permit was received, the treating doctor in Gaza, Dr. Mohammad Abu Sha’aban, said she was too sick to travel. Nasma died in the early morning hours of October 16, 2010.
PHR-Israel immediately lodged a complaint with the head of the Israeli DCO, demanding an immediate inquiry into those responsible for the delayed response.
Abu Lasheen’s death comes just days PHR-Israel testified to the Israeli Turkel Commission which investigates the Flotilla incident, on the humanitarian situation in Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s closure policy. In their October 13th testimony, PHR- Israel pointed to the rising numbers of Gaza patients denied exit for treatment in hospitals outside the Strip, a phenomenon that has intensified since Israel’s tightened closure took effect June 2007. PHR-Israel emphasized that for the patients, a delayed or non-approved permit could mean the difference between quality of life and preventable pain and suffering, and in many cases, even the difference between life and death, as demonstrated by the Abu Lasheem case.
PHR- Israel calls on the Israeli authorities at Erez Crossing to investigate those responsible for delays involved in Nasma Abu Lasheen’s case. PHR- Israel reiterates its demand that Israel fulfill its obligations vis-à-vis the residents of Gaza by ensuring them full and timely access to medical treatment unavailable in the Gaza Stip.
For more information, please contact Ran Yaron, Director of PHR-Israel’s Occupied Territories Department by telephone: +972-54-7577696, or via E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org