Ahlam is another victim of Israel's cold-blooded occupation
By Kathryn Shihadah
A refugee living in Gaza, 20-year-old Ahlam Abu Musa was diagnosed with bone cancer nine months ago. Ever since, she has been trying to obtain an exit permit to get treatment at a hospital in East Jerusalem - Gaza lacks the facilities she needs. The Israeli army has denied each request.
Mind you, East Jerusalem is just seventy miles from Ahlam’s home; it is part of her country; she is very ill.
Ahlam might not be so sick were it not for the blockade of Gaza: serious shortages of supplies and funding for local hospitals meant she had to wait a long time for her first doctor appointment. By the time she was finally diagnosed, the cancer was spreading rapidly.
Ahlam is still waiting.
Ahlam is not a one-off. Her bad luck is not a fluke. It’s built into the policy of the Israeli occupation.
In 2017, at least 54 Palestinians died while waiting for permission to exit Gaza for medical treatment.
Aimee Shalan, CEO of Medical Aid for Palestinians, commented:
We’re seeing Israel increasingly deny or delay access to potentially life-saving cancer and other treatment outside Gaza, with shockingly high numbers of Palestinian patients subsequently dying, while Gaza’s healthcare system – subjected to half a century of occupation and a decade of blockade – is decreasingly able to meet the needs of its population.
Israel’s policy toward Gazans seeking exit permits for medical treatment is traceable to a handful of ad hoc lobbyists.
As reported last August,
[Parents of a slain Israeli soldier] have called on Israel to withhold from Gazans all but “the bare minimum” – including humanitarian exit permits – until the remains of their son and another soldier, as well as 2 live Israelis, are returned. [They] call Hamas’ practice of withholding bodies and prisoners a “vile policy” in “direct contravention of international law.”
Indeed, withholding bodies of slain soldiers is a breach of international law, regardless of which country is doing it – a minor point which Israel and some of its citizens fail to detect.
Israel itself uses this “vile policy” on a grand scale: one Palestinian human rights group estimates that the Jewish State currently holds about 268 Palestinian bodies. Most have been buried in one of several “cemeteries of numbers” scattered across Israel.
These Palestinian remains are preserved as bargaining chips, as Israel has made crystal clear on a number of occasions: from time to time, when Israel has a use for them, bodies are dug up and sent to their families for burial.
Israel’s policy is not only inhumane and based on hypocrisy, but illegal.
(As a side note, while Israel and its partisans claim Israeli “disengagement” from Gaza - the end of occupation - Israel maintains total control over Gaza’s borders, airspace, and maritime activities. The regulation of exit permits is just one example.)
Ahlam expresses a universal desire for justice and a life of meaning: “I can’t build a future for myself in this condition. I’ve been stuck at home since May. All I want is to have the surgery so that the pain can go away. Why are my mother and I being denied a permit? We don’t pose any danger to Israel.”
She is not asking too much.