Failure to connect home of Palestinian child diagnosed with cancer to electricity may result in risk to her life

Enass al-Atrash. (Photo: Bustan LaShalom)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice yesterday against the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Infrastructure and the Minister of the Interior, and demanded to connect the child�s house to the national electric grid and provide her house with electricity on a regular basis. The petition was written by Attorney Sonia Boulos from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Three-year-old Enass from an unrecognized village in the Negev, where the Al-Atrash family resides, was diagnosed in January 2005 with a form of cancer-Rhabdomyosarcoma - which was detected in her chest cavity. The cancer was diagnosed at a very late stage and, as a result, doctors had to treat it with aggressive chemotherapy followed by surgery. Even after the surgery, the child had to receive additional chemotherapy. Furthermore, the child must receive injections of GCSF to strengthen her immune system. This medicine must be stored at temperature of 0-40C to ensure its effectiveness; without electricity, the family, of course, cannot refrigerate the medicine. Without an adequate hygienic level, any infection could pose a serious threat to the child�s life. Due to the oppressive heat in the summer months, it is almost impossible to sustain a sufficient level of hygiene in Enass�s house, which in turn increases the chance that she will contract an intestinal disease, which could prove fatal.

A generator supplies electricity to Enass�s house, but due to the high costs only operates for three hours a day and must also support four other families. After Enass�s parents learned of her illness, they turned to the Israel Electric Corporation and explained their daughter�s critical health situation. The Israel Electric Corporation refused to grant the family�s request despite the fact that failure to connect the family�s house to the electric grid poses an actual threat to Enass�s life.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel appealed to several government bodies and requested that the girl�s house be connected to electricity, or that they provide a temporary solution. All of the requests were denied without an offer to connect the girl�s house to electricity.

Attorney Boulos also claims that failure to connect the girl�s house to electricity is, in effect, a grave violation of her basic right to life and health. Enass�s right to life and the imperative to ensure her well-being, Attorney Boulos clarifies, override any planning or logistical factors relevant to the supply of electricity. She further emphasizes that the supply of electricity is not necessary only to alleviate the infant�s suffering and improve the quality of life, but is, in fact, necessary to save her life. Failure to connect the infant�s house, or other patients� houses, to the electric grid only because they live in unrecognized villages, the suit claims, is not due to a lack of resources, but is a result of an ongoing policy of discrimination, which the state directs at the Arab-Bedouin society in Israel. Due to the imminent danger to the infant�s life and health, Attorney Boulos requests that the Israeli High Court of Justice hold an emergency hearing on this matter.

More Information

  • Adv. Sonia Boulos, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, +972-4-8348876 or Yoav Loeff, ACRI Spokesperson, +972-2-6521218/ +972-52-3410631; or Orly Almi, Project coordinator Unrecognized Negev Villages, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, +972-54-6844495 or Shabtai Gold, Public Outreach, +972-54-4860630.

    Related Links

  • In spite of doctor�s recommendation: three year old cancer patient without electricity, PHR (21 July 2005)
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  • Association for Civil Rights in Israel
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