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The Only Democracy? » Discrimination, Featured » Gaza girl paralyzed in strike can’t stay in Israel

Gaza girl paralyzed in strike can’t stay in Israel

YNet has this sad story:

Will eight-year-old Maria Amen, who lost five of her family members when an Israeli missile hit her home in the Gaza Strip in May 2006 get a house of her own three-and-a-half years later?

The eight-year-old lost her mother, two of her brothers, her aunt and her grandmother in the strike, and was also hit herself. She was left almost completely paralyzed to this day, and currently resides at a rehabilitation hospital in Jerusalem.

During a hearing on the matter in the High Court of Justice last week the defense and interior ministers’ counsel said the State would appoint a new representative to find a solution to the girl’s living arrangements to bring the saga to an end. The girls’ status, along with that of her father and brother, who was also injured in the strike, is being discussed by the High Court. The State refuses to grant the family’s request for permanent residency in Israel.”

Attorney Adi Lustigman, who represents the Amen family, said she also hopes the family’s permanent resident status will be approved in the future, despite that State’s current position on the matter. “She can’t breathe on her own, and this will not change. Transferring her to the Palestinian Authority would lead to doom, she cannot survive there. Here, the family can rebuild its life. What we are asking for is stability for her family, which has experienced disaster.”

While I am heartened that Israel apparently admitted enough wrongdoing to provide care for this girl for years, I am baffled as to why they refuse to approve her permanent resident status. The only possible explanation seems to be that are opposed to giving any hope  or setting any precedent for other Palestinians who wish to live in Israel. It is shame that this victim of war is being victimized again by Israel’s desire to keep Palestinians out. And the care given to this girl raises the question of what happens to all the many other victims of Israel’s bombing raids or others who need medical care in Israel. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has this story of a Gaza man denied care because he might try to move to the West Bank.

Physicians for Human Rights–Israel is aware of two other cases of patients who, like Mr. Hamdan, have recently been refused permission by Israel to leave Gaza in order to receive medical treatment based on the claim that they may settle in the West Bank. This is a new phenomenon that reflects an escalation in Israeli policy toward residents of Gaza who require medical treatment. The policy violates the basic rights of patients to receive medical care, including in emergency cases, putting political considerations ahead of Israel’s duty to safeguard the health of residents of Gaza.”

UPDATE: In researching this piece, I found a post by Tikkun Olam blogger Richard Silverstein from a year ago, in which he denounces the Peres Center (as in President Shimon Peres) for using these children for political gain while others go without care. And the Palestinian Authority for engaging in the politicization of their care.

Medical care is one of the major points of contention in the everyday low-intensity conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.  Israel’s Peres Center makes a point of subsidizing the medical care of Palestinian children in need of specialized care that can only be found at Israeli hospitals.  It then publicizes its beneficence in order to score points in Israel and the world community by highlighting how merciful Israel is toward sick Palestinian children. This of course begs the question–what about solving the conflict, instead of merely providing medical care for a few hundred sick Palestinians, much as that is to be admired?”

Silverstein tells the story of a girl who died from being denied care, which uncomfortably reminded me of the stories that surfaced in the health care debate in the United States.

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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