Israel has killed nearly 3 Palestinians per week this year

Mourners carry the body of Raed Rafiq Ahmad al-Sirsawi during his funeral on 29 November. The 30-year-old succumbed to injuries sustained during Israel’s attack on Gaza on 13 November.

Ashraf Amra APA images

On Friday, 29 November, 16-year-old Fahd al-Astal died after he was shot in the stomach by Israeli occupation forces during protests along the Gaza-Israel boundary.

The same day, Raed Rafiq Ahmad al-Sirsawi, 30, died of injuries sustained during Israel’s escalation of violence against Gaza on 13 November.

Their deaths bring to 132 the total number of Palestinians who have died by Israeli fire so far this year. That breaks down to an average of nearly three killed per week.

Meanwhile, a total of 10 Israelis died as a result of Palestinian violence during the same period.

Thirteen times more Palestinians than Israelis have died from occupation-related violence so far this year.

Prisoner dies in Israeli custody

But this figure doesn’t include the Palestinians who died in Israel’s prisons, including Sami Abu Diyak, who succumbed to cancer in Israeli custody on Tuesday, 26 November, amid accusations of years of medical neglect.

Abu Diyak is the fifth Palestinian to die in Israeli custody this year.

Israeli movement restrictions also contribute to Palestinian deaths not reflected in conflict fatality counts.

Those cases include Palestinians who died awaiting permission to travel for medical treatment not available in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The World Health Organization reports that in October, Israel approved only 58 percent of the more than 1,750 applications submitted by Palestinians in Gaza seeking medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank.

The world health body also said that the rate of permits approved by Israel for Palestinians injured during protests along the Gaza-Israel boundary is much lower than the overall approval rate. Since Gaza’s Great March of Return began on 30 March 2018, only 18 percent of applications for medical treatment in Israel and the West Bank were approved for those injured during the protests.

Cruel treatment of medical patients

A patient profiled by the World Health Organization illustrates Israel’s cruel treatment of Palestinians in Gaza seeking specialized medical care.

Identified by the world health body as Sherehan, a 33-year-old mother of four, the patient was referred by doctors in Gaza to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah for advanced care after they found a tumor growing in her abdomen.

“For Sherehan, this meant applying for an Israeli-issued permit to exit Gaza,” according to the World Health Organization. “Since her initial referral, she has now applied 12 times to exit Gaza for healthcare, and every time she has been unsuccessful.”

She was denied a permit eight times, while on three occasions, her application remained “under study” at the date of her appointment, and once she was told that the treatment she requires was available in Gaza.

“According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the complex multidisciplinary care Sherehan requires is not available locally,” the World Health Organization states.

Sherehan told the organization that “I’ve been suffering a year with sickness, but over the last three months I felt so down and depressed. The tumor is getting bigger and my symptoms are getting worse. I have no options, just painkillers.”

While denying Palestinians like Sherehan access to necessary medical treatment, the Israeli military boasts about its soldiers donating their hair to cancer patients:

COGAT, the bureaucratic arm of Israel’s military occupation that deals with travel application permits submitted by patients like Sherehan, complained about the World Health Organization’s report:

According to COGAT, only 51 percent of all medical patient applications were approved in October – that’s lower than the 58 percent figure given by the World Health Organization.

Credit where credit’s due – at least COGAT wishes for it to be known as crueler than the World Health Organization’s reporting suggests.

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Maureen Clare Murphy

Maureen Clare Murphy's picture

Maureen Clare Murphy is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and lives in Chicago.